11 March 2012
A year after Japan was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and ongoing problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Red Cross is still helping survivors in need of support.
While the Ministry of Environment estimates that 70 per cent of debris in coastal areas will have been cleared by March 2012, restoring people’s lives is a slow process. Many people lost their homes, and are now struggling with the double cost of their old mortgage coupled with the investment it takes to start a new life.
Many other people have had to move in to prefabricated or rented homes far from their communities and families – because of nuclear contamination or the availability of land.
To help people affected by the nuclear power plant disaster, the Red Cross is distributing devices for measuring radiation in the body in Miyagi and Fukushima. It is also distributing over 100 devices for measuring radiation in food.
In Fukushima, the Red Cross provided medical assistance to people who had visited their homes in the nuclear restriction zone. In Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima it is also vaccinating people over 70 against pneumonia – the fourth highest cause of death in Japan.
In Miyagi, the Red Cross is helping support the damaged health infrastructure. This includes building several temporary hospitals and a group home for elderly people who are unable to live alone in government-provided prefabricated houses.
After the disaster, the Red Cross supplied electronic appliances to 144 large-scale evacuation centres. With most evacuation centres now closed, electronic appliances and furniture are now being delivered to the communal areas in prefabricated housing clusters in over 740 locations. Seasonal items such as water taps in summer and heat pads in winter have also been distributed throughout Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
To help people resume their normal lives, the Red Cross is providing psycho-social support, small events such as tea parties, social welfare support for the elderly and people with disabilities, group exercise activities, and health and social classes.
In the village of Kawauchi, where 90 per cent of the population have been evacuated to prefabricated housing 80 km away, the Red Cross constructed a community centre.
The Red Cross has provided temporary bus services in some areas – enabling children to get to school. The Red Cross is also helping provide school lunches and equipment, and temporary school gymnasiums and playing areas. This is particularly helpful in areas where nuclear contamination makes it potentially dangerous for children to play and exercise outside.
In order to prepare for future disasters, the Japanese Red Cross will also be replenishing its warehouse stocks in 80 locations.
In the aftermath of the 2011 disaster, the British Red Cross launched the Japan Tsunami Appeal which, thanks to the huge generosity of donors, raised £14.2 million. These funds are being used to support the Japanese Red Cross’ relief and recovery programme.
Read how we are giving children the chance to play again
Find out about our work with older people in Fukushima