Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake
The Current State of Aid to East Japan
Disaster Victims, Now in Its Sixth Year
～ Putting an end to earthquake-related deaths: the current conditions and challenges ～
As we mark the passage of five years of aid activities since the Great East Japan Earthquake, the conditions and challenges, as well as our aid situation, are now changing significantly: victims are moving from temporary housing to public disaster housing, being exhausted by repeated moving, facing difficulties which arise with sustaining an aging community. Urgent aid required to support these victims are: rebuilding communities; expanding the safety-net through psychological care; and providing transportation service for the disaster-weakened and socially disadvantaged people, such as the elderly, handicapped, single-parent households, and the needy.
The Situation in Fukushima Prefecture
The evacuation order issued for the entire city of Naraha has now been lifted, but at presen, only 6 percent of the residents have returned, most of them elderly. Hence, the challenge for the future will be structuring integrated community care system. In anticipation of evacuation orders being lifted in places like the Odaka area of Minamisoma, Namie Town, Iitate Village, and Tomioka Town, decontamination is
proceeding and incineration facilities that burn radioactively contaminated materials are operating at full capacity. However, once evacuation orders are lifted, reparations payments having been paid to evacuees will stop. They are facing difficulties in making decisions whether to return home or to continue living in radiation-free evacuation places. The issues are availability of job for living and low-dose radiation exposure especially for young generation. In this situation, preserving original communities or rebuilding communities are growing more pressing, but it is an extremely difficult task.
In light of this situation, JPF is strengthening support for Fukushima through the"Living Together" Fund(*1) at least until fiscal year 2018 both for Fukushima and the areas outside of Fukushima that have accepted evacuees. The number of evacuees continues to decrease year by year, but still about 148,000(*2) people are living as evacuees; more than half of those (89,000)(*2) are still out of Fukushima in radiation-free areas and many of them have family members who suffer from physical and/or psychological disorders. Furthermore, the number of disaster-related deaths in Fukushima stands at 2038(*3). The trend is upward, and is extremely serious in comparison with Iwate (459 deaths) and Miyagi (920 deaths)(*3). JPF will continue working to put an end to disaster-related deaths at all costs through safety-net aid that addresses physical and psychological needs, and through community aid that works to prevent isolation and improve residential environments.
*2 : Reconstruction Agency, reported 29 July 2016 *3 : Reconstruction Agency, reported 30 June 2015
The Situation in Iwate Prefecture
The construction of public disaster housing is in progress, and the moving from temporary housing to public disaster housing has begun. The challenge after moving to new housing is the formation of communities and residents' associations. We support activities that encourage residents to express their agency and independence in forming new communities. At the same time, we provide more individualized aid for those experiencing difficulty leaving temporary housing. The challenge we face in this process is a lack of co-working community leaders due to declining population in the disaster-affected areas.
The Situation in Miyagi Prefecture
After five years, progress has been made in constructing embankments and in collective relocation projects, and in some areas relocations have been completed and new neighborhoods have already been opened. Recovery is proceeding steadily with regard to infrastructure, however, the rate of population loss in the three affected prefectures of Tohoku is higher than ever before. As a consequence, duringthe past three years, the number of houses for collective relocations was cut down by 30 percent from its original plan. As the five-year" period for concentrated recovery efforts" designated by the Reconstruction Agency draws to an end, the disaster-affected areas are confronting a grim situation physically and psychologically. Aid structures must be organized to look five or ten years ahead and place emphasis on the people who will become local leaders.
JPF's Future Development in Emergency Response to Domestic Disasters
～Making use of the Lessons Learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake in the Next Disaster～
With regard to aid projects for victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the five-years designated by the national government as the" Concentrated Reconstruction Period" have passed, and many aid organizations, including international NGOs, have been forced to withdraw from the disaster-affected areas due to such reasons as finances. JPF has decided to continue its aid projects for disaster victims in East Japan while focusing on Fukushima. In Iwate Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture, however, JPF will accept applications to the" Living Together" Fund only through the first half of fiscal year 2016, and projects in Iwate and Miyagi will end in March 2017. While strengthening and developing collaboration with local NPOs, including each prefecture's Recovery Collaboration Center, we will move toward a posture of encouraging locally-led independent recovery.
Making use of the lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake in the future
From the second half of fiscal year 2016 into fiscal year 2017, JPF will work on examining past projects to aid disaster victims in East Japan implemented. The examination will be conducted objectively and comprehensively to clarify how JPF responded to changing phases of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and what functions and roles it took on. In analyzing JPF's projects in East Japan, outside experts and the JPF office are preparing a plan for examination according to three key points: its role as a subsidizing organization, its role as a coordinator, and its role as a point of contact for recovery aid by businesses. To improve the emergency humanitarian support that we provide in the future, we will use this work of examination as a way to pass on the knowledge, experience and knowhow cultivated in East Japan for the sake of the next disaster as it is our mission and responsibility.
Continuation of aid to Fukushima
Disaster victims in Fukushima Prefecture including evacuees to radiation free areas inside and outside of Fukushima face many challenges. JPF will continue the" Living Together" Fund for them at least until fiscal year 2018. The government has announced that it plans to lift evacuation orders and permit returns by March 2017 for" restricted residence areas" and for the" area being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order," but not for the "difficult-to-return zone," and announced its policy that reparation payments for emotional reasons will be cut off as of March 2018. Therefore, the greatest challenge in Fukushima at present is that people must decide to return to their hometowns or stay at evacuated towns. JPF has decided that from a humanitarian perspective, it must collaborate with local NPOs to continue providing fair, just, and swift aid for people who return, who are worried about returning, and who, for a variety of reasons including uncertainty about damage to their children's health, choose not to return or cannot return.
About "Living Together" Fund
Wide-Ranging Support Through Aid in Four Fields
JAPAN PLATFORM (JPF) established the" Living Together" Fund in April 2011, and started invitation for applications in May. Through quarterly offerings each year, it has distributed financial assistance to organizations aiding victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The fund exposes local aid needs, and is applied to a wide range of aid in four key aid areas (community aid, safety-net aid, occupational aid, and coordination aid). The fund not only supports independent local activities, but also carefully determines the phases of recovery, giving support that will take root locally and connecting activities with the next steps in recovery.
This type of aid creates community by building connections among residents, helping recovery through the provision of places where members of the community can gather and through the process ofworking together.
This type of aid gives disaster victims the security to lead healthy lives by providing aid to people or domains of activity which is not yet covered by the government program.
This type of aid helps a secure life for disaster victims through activities and information-sharing which lead to jobs and income for those who lost their jobs in the disaster.
This type of aid helps to support the coordination of aid with government entities, NGOs, NPOs and other organizations so that safety-net aid, community aid, and occupational aid can proceed efficiently.
Two hours and forty-six minutes after the Great Earthquake hit East Japan on March 11, 2011, JPF made a decision to launch relief operation: JPF dispatched its staff to the disaster stricken areas for initial assessments and JPF-registered member NGOs sent out emergency relief assistance teams.
In the same month, JPF opened Tohoku/East Japan regional office in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture to respond to the changing needs in the affected areas. In May 2011, recognizing the needs to fund not only JPF-registered NGOs but also non-member local civil organizations, JPF established a new fund scheme named Tomoni Ikiru (Stand by Together) Fund. As of January 2016, 160 nonprofit organizations carried out 319 assistance programs through this fund to help the disaster survivors.
JPF's role in recovery is not limited to funding. JPF's staff members are stationing in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to advise and support local civil organizations and to build regional cooperative networks of public and civil actors in information sharing and coordination of reconstruction activities. Another important role of JPF comes from its close contacts with business entities: providing corporate partners with updated information on issues and needs of the disaster affected areas and encouraging them to support the disaster survivors and the affected areas.
JPF continues to talk and walk together with the disaster survivors and sees to it that the governmental, public and civil partners collaborate in extending needs-based and cost-effective reconstruction and rehabilitation activities and that the disaster survivors shall stand on their own feet.
NGO's Project : ASAGAO
Implementing transportation assistance in coordination with local actors
For two and a half years between April 2014 and the end of September 2016, using JPF's Living Together Fund, transportation assistance was provided for a total of 7,500 persons in Minamisoma City and Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture. The beneficiaries were needy persons, persons with disabilities, and the elderly who either resided in or needed transportation to and from home, temporary housing, disaster recovery public housing, welfare centers, the Soma Special Education School, and various hospitals and clinics. In order for transportation assistance to be accepted as reasonable accommodation to promote self-reliant living for persons with disabilities, coordination had to be made among welfare agencies, independent living centers, and community comprehensive care centers in the Soma-Futaba Region in which Minamisoma City lies. The project also effectively served as an example for taking the transportation assistance project model into consideration.
Voice from the Field
Many people got to build up their confidence and motivation.
It has been six years since the nuclear plant accident, but we continue having to face the reality of the line being drawn at the 30km radius, demarcating the Planned Evacuation Area as a result of radiation damages, and the fact that especially the prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities persist, as well as the uncertainties surrounding compensations for them. After the earthquake and tsunami, when toads had been severed and when the remaining staff were all desperate each and every day, we appreciated the transportation assistance we received, especially given our labor shortage. Every person has a wish to work hard and to make him/herself useful regardless of their disability. When you're done at the hospital, there's a transportation vehicle waiting for you, and you can be rest assured that you'll be taken to the welfare center's workshop and be able to do your job. Thanks to such transportation assistance, it became possible to go to the doctor regularly and manage medications, leading many people to build up their confidence and motivation This was all possible thanks to JPF's support over the last two and half years! - From the Asagao Project