The Red Cross Society of China led the recovery operation with support from other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – including the British Red Cross.
Relief and recovery
Immediately after the earthquake, Red Cross staff and volunteers gave out tents, food, water, clothes and medicine to more than one million survivors. They were also heavily involved in the rescue and treatment of injured people pulled from the rubble.
As the focus turned to protecting the health of survivors, British Red Cross specialists were sent to China for two months to help stop the outbreak of disease. The four-member emergency response team built 300 latrines and carried out hygiene promotion training in Jiulong and Banqiao townships.
The Red Cross also sent several psychosocial support teams to the area to give survivors emotional support and practical help. As well as deploying logistics and sanitation experts, the British Red Cross immediately made a £25,000 donation from its own Disaster Fund and launched an appeal which eventually raised £4.8 million.
After the earthquake, five million homes needed to be built – a construction effort as big as rebuilding Sweden or a major city like London or New Delhi. The Red Cross has built more than 1.9 million earthquake-resistant homes, 660 schools and 2,000 medical clinics and hospitals in the worst affected provinces.
Cash raised by the British Red Cross supported a livelihoods programme helping two social groups who might otherwise struggle to earn money – people with disabilities caused by the earthquake and farmers who lost access to their land because of the disaster.
The programme has taught people alternative employment or livelihood skills ranging from fruit growing and livestock breeding to sewing and running restaurants. It has trained 6,676 people, including 1,480 with a disability.
A survey of farmers who took part found more than 95 per cent thought the programme would help them find a job or set up their own businesses, and more than 66 per cent had found work after the training.
The programme also allowed poor or low-income people to become more independent by giving them grants or loans to build or rebuild their own business. By the end of April 2012, this scheme had given out 346 small loans worth about £675,500.
The cash was used by households who would otherwise struggle to get loans, because they cannot offer guarantees or proof of a steady income. By December 2012, 95 per cent had been paid back at the end of their 12 month loan period. The funds are set to be re-loaned out on an annual basis, reaching 1,200 households by the end of 2015.