June 10, 2011

botyu03NICCO is working in cooperation with local governments, the Japan Pest Control Association, and the Church World Service (an American NGO) to conduct pest control efforts in Iwate Prefecture. When the tsunami hit this region, it swept seafood out of the processing plants, and this rotting seafood, combined with the damaged sewer systems in towns, is causing a major outbreak of flies, mosquitoes, and other disease-bearing pests. In response, NICCO has launched its “Pest Busters” project and is hoping to expand its efforts to other parts of Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and Fukushima Prefecture.

JEN posted a report on the complexities of the current clean-up efforts, which they have been carrying out for moreFinding places to dump the rubble once it has been cleared is a major challenge, as JEN reports.than two months and for which they are still recruiting volunteers. Recently, the need for sludge and rubble removal has shifted from the evacuation sites to private homes, and places that received some clean-up assistance before now need follow-up assistance. Work on clearing sidewalks has been progressing, so now it is becoming possible to clean up the gutters and roadsides as well. But when dealing with public roads, the local government has its own guidelines, so if JEN wants to clean up the gutters between individual houses, it has to select locations based on the town hall’s sewer register. JEN also has to consider the safety of its volunteers. There are some areas where the footing is unsafe and where large machinery is needed to clear debris. On the other hand, there are smaller pieces of rubble and trash that have to be cleared by human hands. JEN is working with others to figure out the safest and most effective ways to clean up. The other major issue is how to handle the cleared debris. It is currently being placed in temporary dumpsites, but the amount of rubble in Ishinomaki alone is tremendous, accounting for one-third of all of the rubble in Miyagi Prefecture. Trying to find clear, flat areas that can accommodate the rubble is difficult, particularly when the need for sites for temporary housing for those who lost their homes naturally has higher priority.

rpt1105_645_4gyozaA staff member of the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR) reported on efforts last month to provide hot meals at Seiyukan, a welfare facility in Ishinomaki (Miyagi Prefecture), Osawa Furusato Center, Osawa Elementary School, and Yamada Town Hall (the last three in the city of Yamada (Iwate Prefecture). Seiyukan used to be a facility for people with disabilities and for the elderly. Since the earthquake, it has been used as an evacuation center for around 140 people. Throughout the “Golden Week” holidays, AAR provided lunch and dinner for the evacuees. AAR’s soup kitchens were run by approximately 20 people who woke up at 6 a.m. every morning and drove a car full of ingredients to the sites. They would usually arrive at the southern tip of the Oshika Peninsula by 9 a.m. and hold a brief meeting with those in charge at Seiyukan to discuss the plan for that day and start preparing the food. Usually, all the meals at Seiyukan are prepared by the evacuees themselves, so AAR was able to give them a much needed rest and to provide variety in their meals. The volunteers didn’t just prepare meals, but also helped to clean the toilets, weed the lawn, play with the kids, and help them with homework—activities that are also very important to improve the lives of those living at the evacuation centers.