A network of churches and organizations supporting churches and communities in Iwate Prefecture stricken by the Great East Japan Disaster
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1. Emergency Relief Phase

Emergency Relief Phase
The period immediately following a disaster is critical to getting organized to build up relief systems and the capability to receive help from outside. For this purpose, we surveyed the field and inquired people to grasp and deepen our understanding of the needs on the ground, all while distributing relief aid. Even then, it can be difficult to get things done swiftly for a variety of reasons, such as the lack of gasoline for our vehicles and delays to the recovery of infrastructure. At our Network, the Core Members made use of teleconferencing and mailing lists to reduce reaction time and reduce costs.
Field survey
P1000222There are many things that you get to know about by being on site. We discovered that those suffering as a consequence of the disaster were not only those in evacuation centers. We saw there were people who had not been directly hit, but were nevertheless facing basic survival issues because supplies were not reaching such households. We were able to see that some supplies were constantly in need while others were in excess, and that there were evacuation centers which were well stocked while other locations were facing constant shortage. In addition, making these field surveys were about trying to establish contact with people we knew, but had been unable to reach.
Relief supplies
192334_1905352721849_6090770_oUsing our imagination as to what would be required for daily living as well as the results of our inquiries, we procured foodstuffs that could be consumed without preparation, water, fuel, underwear, socks, clothing, winter gear, oral hygiene goods, sanitation goods, etc. As infrastructure recovered, we were able to distribute foods that required preparation such as vegetables and rice, and we also targeted contributing to the recovery of the local economy by procuring supplies locally. We found that if we were not careful to grasp the on-site needs first and then reflect this in the way we procured relief supplies, there would be supplies left over and we would struggle to handle this excess. We also found that supplies that had been deemed as being no longer required would once again come in need as time went by. We learned that it is important to be able to react to the ever-changing needs of the ground. Disaster survivors will be calling out for help to whomever they come across, so at times, as a result of this behavior aid would come in for the same request from multiple sources. When this happens, there will be evacuation centers that have the depth of will left to reorganize and redirect the supplies to other evacuation shelters in need, while others may just become overwhelmed and face burn-out.
Inquiring
195116_145236042209189_7477402_oTo defend against self-satisfying aid work, we made it a point to inquire of the needs of the people. Through these inquiring surveys, we were able to obtain information about areas and households that were not having access to relief aid or about people who needed particular attention.
Getting organized
We found it important to establish a structure that would enable us to provide long-term, flexible relief and support. Of particular importance to us was to mutually embrace what we were targeting to do and on what principles we would be providing relief and support. In getting all this organized, the cooperative relationship among the Core Members that predated the disaster was of great help.

  • Secure channels of communication
  • Build up information sharing systems
  • Confirm the decision-making process
  • Define accountability roles while maintaining supportive relationships
  • The organization is to benefit the field
Accompanying field survey trips
We had many opportunities to accompany field survey trips made by people from all over Japan as well as from abroad. These opportunities helped us get prepared to receive relief support and volunteers from beyond and also build healthy personal relationships and mutual bonds. Through our experience, we also believe that it helps the relief/support provider to be involved over the longer term by visiting the field first before getting involved.

この投稿文は次の言語で読めます: Japanese

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Date/Time 2015-02-10 / 11:00
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