Updated CWS emergency appeal: Japan earthquake and tsunami

September 21, 2011

Peace Boat volunteers Photo: CWS Asia/Pacific

Peace Boat volunteers Photo: CWS Asia/Pacific

Appeal # 699-Y
New appeal amount: $6,901,476

Amount of funds received or pledged as of Sept. 16, 2011, for the appeal: $6,439,077

Summary of situation:

A devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering a massive tsunami that washed away several coastal cities, destroyed critical infrastructure, crippling more than 7,000 businesses and was primarily responsible for the death of a confirmed 15,776 people. In addition to the fatalities, as of Sept. 8, confirmed injured were 5,929 persons and 4,225 are either still missing or are unaccounted for. Some 450,000 people were made homeless by the disaster.

The World Bank has estimated the total economic cost of the disaster to be around $235 billion, or 4 percent of Japan’s GDP, the costliest natural disaster on record. Some analysts have put cost at a figure above this. Although Japan’s GDP is expected to rebound late in the year or early next year, some have said that Japan’s net wealth has been permanently reduced.

Infrastructure was particularly hard hit in this disaster — 120,000 buildings-including houses, factories, offices, schools and community centers-were destroyed by the tsunami. Of these, 78,000 were washed away. A further 220,000 buildings were damaged. Property damage is estimated to be equal to 4.5 percent of Japan’s GDP. The hardest-hit towns along the coastal areas of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are still struggling to recover.

Some towns, such as Rikuzentakata, saw more than half their population lost. The pace of progress in reconstructing these towns’ physical infrastructure, including fishing processing plants and warehouses, has been slow. It may take up to three years before permanent houses are rebuilt.

Since moving into temporary housing from the evacuation centers, many survivors have become more susceptible to depression and alcoholism, since many of them now live alone, separated from the communities that provided them with moral and practical support. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is also a problem.

The earthquake and tsunami also destabilized the Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima, causing reactors to overheat and leak radiation. The nuclear crisis is still posing challenges and the company in charge of the plant has indicated that it could take the rest of the year for them to get radiation leakage fully under control.

CWS response:

CWS continues to support a broad group of partners, including some of those under the umbrella grouping Japan Platform, or JPF, an international emergency humanitarian aid consortium of 32 Japanese non-governmental organizations, the business community and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

CWS has also provided some support to the Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Organization, known as JEDRO, which is an effort inclusive of the National Council of Churches of Japan.

What follows is a listing of some of the accomplishments so far by CWS partners based on a report of work through late August.

I. Food distribution

CWS is assisting the Japanese NGO Peace Boat, which since the disasters  has been providing meals to survivors both within and outside evacuation shelters. To date, Peace Boat has prepared and provided more than 88,000 hot meals to survivors in Ishinomaki city. In the month of August, 6,705 hot meals were provided in 26 locations (evacuation shelters and neighborhoods) in and around Ishinomaki. These efforts will continue.

II. Pest control and sanitation

NICCO, with support from CWS, has provided pest control services in Rikuzentakata and other cities, trying to keep a persistent “fly problem” in check, in both residential and industrial areas. This was particularly important along the city’s coastline where seafood processing plants were smashed by the tsunami, leaving tons of rotting fish strewn all over. . NICCO, the only NGO to be working on pest control in this city, trained local government officials, who were aware of the problem and its potential hazards for health but lacking the capacity to act.

NICCO has conducted six disinfestation operations, all in Iwate prefecture. Thanks to the success of the original pest control project funded by CWS until the end of June, NICCO has been able to roll out and expand the emergency pest control project to cope with pest prevalence in larger scales, coordinating with the municipal governments of 13 cities and towns in 3 prefectures, acquiring more funds from other donors.

III. Mud and debris clearance

In addition to providing hot meals, Peace Boat has mobilized thousands of volunteers to assist with clearing mud from houses, shops and public spaces in Ishinomaki city. To date, Peace Boat volunteers have cleaned 990 homes or shops of mud and debris, including 72 in August. Contributing to the re-opening of many businesses and shops, to date, 95 percent of requests have been responded to and completed.

IV. Psychosocial support

Providing psychosocial support is one of the key elements to CWS’s program in Japan. Meeting the psychosocial needs of the survivors has become more important since their move from evacuation centers into temporary housing units. The psychosocial support that CWS has been providing includes a mix of informal and formal approaches.

CWS provided support for the initial phase of a program run by NICCO, providing professional psychosocial services in Rikuzentakata city. Twice-weekly activities, some of which are aimed at the elderly, included physical and occupational therapy in the form of lectures and workshops. NICCO also provided mental health screening.  CWS is also providing psychosocial support by another of CWS’s partners, SEEDS Asia.

V. Support for women and children

CWS has recently partnered with Caring for Young Refugees, known as CYR, a local organization dedicated to supporting children, mothers and child care providers in post-disaster situations. CYR has been supporting community day-care spaces for earthquake and tsunami survivors in evacuation sites and temporary housing. CWS is helping provide locally purchased school kits to children’s day care service centers, including Nobiru Kindergarten and Naruse-Chiku Nursery Center in Higashi-Matsushima city and Pinnocio Kindergarten in Ishinomaki city, both in Miyagi prefecture. CYR is continuing to assist a day care center for disaster victims from Futaba-machi, Fukushima prefecture, in Saitama, Tokyo.

CWS has also been supporting women and children through the Polaris Project Japan, which has distributed 52,000 safety cards, designed by medical professionals and other groups working on the ground to promote the provision of a safe environment for women and children. These cards were distributed to women and children with feminine hygiene  supplies, including shampoo, soap, and skin care products in disaster affected areas. CWS has also assisted Polaris Project Japan to distribute 2,150 personal alarm bells to specific evacuation centers for use by women and children, as well as to volunteer groups in response from requests from Ofunato city government and several counterparts on the ground. The alarm bells were distributed by volunteers, including those giving foot massages at evacuation centers in Iwate prefecture, with safety cards. Through Oxfam Japan, CWS has been helping Shelter Net, a local NGO, to run a phone hotline for women suffering from sexual abuse and domestic violence. Reports of such cases have increased since the March 11 disaster in the affected areas.

VI. New work

New activities being added include additional psychosocial seminars, capacity building for NGOs to improve service delivery to survivors; training for disaster relief volunteers and leaders’ training. Activities that continue include the meals program; the hotline for single mothers and other women with special needs; promoting quality and accountability in humanitarian operations in Japan, part of larger CWS efforts focused on improving humanitarian response globally.

Other ongoing activities also include debris clearance of tsunami-affected homes, businesses and public spaces; pest control and sanitation work; day-care spaces for children and livelihoods for nursery teachers.

With the addition of new components that require longer term involvement (such as advocacy, capacity building, community mobilization), the duration of CWS efforts has been extended for 12 more months. With this, the new end date of the appeal has been revised to September 2013.


Total is $6,901,476. That includes direct costs that include $1,544,000 for food, shelter, pest control and cleanup; $572,036 for programs related to women and children; $885,301 for psychosocial support and community strengthening programs; $2,448,626 for advocacy and capacity building.

HOW TO HELP: Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, Appeal #699-Y, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.