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  • ‘Japan Disaster Relief Team: 30 Years On’ Part 3: By Sending Emergency Goods, and JDR Expert Team, JICA's Assistance Seamlessly Transitions from Recovery to Development


October 26, 2017

‘Japan Disaster Relief Team: 30 Years On’ Part 3: By Sending Emergency Goods, and JDR Expert Team, JICA's Assistance Seamlessly Transitions from Recovery to Development

photoHanding over emergency relief goods to the government of Sri Lanka

On May 29, JICA decided to provide emergency relief goods in response to damage from heavy rains in Sri Lanka. On May 31, tents, plastic sheets, water purifiers and other goods arrived in Colombo and JICA handed them over to the government of Sri Lanka.

The Japan Disaster Relief Team has been providing human assistance for more than 30 years by sending experts in rescue, medical care and other fields to disaster areas. At the same time, immediately after a disaster, JICA also provides tents, blankets and other necessary emergency relief items. It has provided relief items more than 500 times in 123 countries and regions since 1987. JICA has emergency relief items stored in six locations around the world to transport to disaster affected countries. The government of the disaster affected country is responsible for distributing the items to affected people in the country.

Possible because JICA, a development assistance agency, is involved

After heavy rains caused damage in Sri Lanka in May, a decision was made on May 31 to send the JDR Expert Team to the country at the same time as emergency relief goods. The team consisting of experts and staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and JICA arrived at the disaster location on June 3 and conducted a survey including visits to disaster affected areas. It made recommendations to the Sri Lankan government about disaster prevention measures before returning to Japan on June 11.

"The Expert Team's assistance leverages JICA's rare strength of seamlessly providing emergency assistance, reconstruction assistance and subsequent development assistance," said Murooka Naomichi, director of the JICA Infrastructure and Peacebuilding Department. Mr. Murooka was part of the Expert Team when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013.

photoPeople affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, the Philippines, live in temporary housing (Photo: JICA/Mika Tanimoto)

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines directly on Nov. 8-9. More than 16 million people were affected by the disaster. After the JDR Medical Team and the Self Defense Force Unit were dispatched and emergency relief goods were provided, on Nov. 26 the Expert Team arrived and conducted a survey aimed at early recovery.

photoPeople displaced by Typhoon Haiyan put up a tent JICA provided as an emergency relief good (left),and members of the JDR Expert Team doing relief work in the Philippines(right)

A shared awareness of the importance of bonds between people and Building Back Better

The Expert Team's work on recovery from typhoon damage in the Philippines finished in December 2013, but JICA's assistance continued. It created and disseminated a hazard map showing the degree of risk of flood tides in various places, created an evacuation plan and provided assistance with the farming and processing of fish and oysters. JICA's philosophy of "Build Back Better," in which recovery efforts result in a place being in better condition than before the disaster, became a pillar of the the Philippines government's restoration and recovery plan.

photoA fish farm rebuilt with assistance from JICA

In January 2014, a research group from Higashimatsushima, Miyagi prefecture, which was greatly damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, visited the affected area in the Philippines. In December a team from the Philippines visited Higashimatsushima. In this way, the people of the two disaster areas shared information on their experiences and recovery efforts.

photoFilipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan who visited Higashimatsushima, Miyagi prefecture, Japan

The Project on Rehabilitation and Recovery from Typhoon Haiyan was chosen to receive this year's JICA President Award on Oct. 3, 2017. The reason given was that through seamless assistance after the Expert Team was dispatched, the project contributed to the drafting of the Philippines government's reconstruction policy and led to sustainable recovery through the cooperation of Higashimatsushima and through self-help efforts by Filipinos.


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