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One-year anniversary – Japan earthquake and tsunami

From World Vision:

“One year after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan, World Vision continues to assist tens of thousands of children and families in the most affected communities.

“The shocking events of March 11, 2011 had an unimaginable impact on large parts of north-east Japan and its citizens,” said World Vision Japan’s Response Director, Mariko Kinai. “The humanitarian need was overwhelming. That’s why World Vision responded within 48 hours and will continue to work with affected communities until March 2014,” she explained.

World Vision has helped more than 140,000 people in the region during this first year of its three-year response. After an extensive relief response, the program currently focuses on children’s development and protection in tsunami-affected communities, livelihood recovery in the fishing industry, support to senior citizens and assistance to evacuees from the Fukushima area.

More than 15,000 people were killed and 300,000 people displaced when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. A nuclear emergency was triggered in the Fukushima prefecture, and roads, rail and power were crippled across the region. The World Bank estimates damages at US$235 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in history.

Despite being practiced in disaster drills, highly organized and a well-resourced nation, the situation was overwhelming for communities and the Government of Japan.

In the aftermath, generous donations from its US and global supporters allowed World Vision to fund a three-year, $53.5 million response program. Around US$33.8 million was spent in the first year, with the remaining amount allocated for projected spending until March 2014.

In the early days of the emergency response, those funds were used to provide relief items, establish community kitchens in evacuation centres and set up Child-Friendly Spaces for young survivors. Phase two of the response involves broader community development and strengthening, with a focus on child protection and disaster preparedness, livelihood recovery and assistance to Fukushima evacuees.

“‘Kizuna’ is a popular word in Japan these days,” Kinai said, “It means ‘bonds of friendship’ and it is something that has been powerfully demonstrated over the past year. The support shown to Japan by more than 20 countries via World Vision has strengthened our understanding of ‘kizuna’ and offered great hope to those who have been affected.”

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