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One year on massive recovery efforts continue in China

8 May 2008

Men working on construction of houseIFRCOne year on from the China earthquake, recovery continues on a massive scale and the Red Cross has spent more than £419 million on relief and recovery. On 12 May 2008, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake devastated south-west China, leaving five million people homeless and taking an estimated 87,000 lives.

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its international partners, has either rebuilt or begun construction of more than 12,000 homes, out of a total of 70,000 homes to be built over the next two and a half years, in the three worst affected provinces. The RCSC is also supporting the construction of 450 schools and 1,500 medical clinics and hospitals.

Addressing people’s needs

Additional programmes will address needs by helping people set up new ways of generating income, healing the emotional impact of the disaster and providing households with clean water.

Justin Dell, British Red Cross recovery officer, said: “We have supported the training of 30 RCSC staff by developing skills to assess, plan and manage recovery programs in an effective and accountable way, which will be a valuable addition in establishing such a large and complex program. We have committed £1.3 million to the Federation recovery programme.”

The RCSC is also supporting the recovery activities of other charity organisations active in the region. Jiang Yiman, RCSC executive vice-president, said: “This has been a real change for us. Before, we tried to do everything ourselves, but we didn't have enough people. We are founded on the volunteer principle, and so we need to leverage that in the communities, the results of which have been good.”

Reconstruction efforts and community-based programmes are expected to continue until April 2011.

Relief phase

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Federation distributed 100,000 tents to survivors. Three Federation emergency response units, including one from the British Red Cross, provided clean water and sanitation to thousands of families, and this helped to avoid the outbreak of disease.

During the cold winter, the Federation provided quilts, food parcels and hygiene kits to thousands of vulnerable families, including 88,000 quilts and 35,000 hygiene kits funded by the British Red Cross.

In May 2008, about 200,000 people lost their lives in China and Myanmar after the devastation wrought by the Sichuan earthquake and Cyclone Nargis respectively. These two tragic events occurred within a week of each other and alone accounted for more than 90 per cent of worldwide fatalities caused by natural disasters last year.

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