Kumamoto earthquake programs completed by Habitat for Humanity

TOKYO, (30 August, 2016) It was earlier this year on 14 April 2016 when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the Kumamoto prefecture and the surrounding region in Japan. After implementing programs to support relief efforts, Habitat for Humanity Japan has announced that it has completed its emergency relief programs for areas affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake, as of the end of July 2016.

When assessments were completed, it was revealed that housing in the area had suffered from a massive amount of damage. Responding to this disaster, Habitat Japan sent two staff to the Kumamoto disaster area on 21 April. They participated in damage assessment, and looked into the needs of local people in Mashiki and Nishihara, communities which have earthquake faults located beneath them. While housing in both areas was severely damaged, Habitat Japan learned that Nishihara suffered from a labor shortage. This slowed progress in setting up a disaster relief volunteer center, and led to a shortage of personnel to support the management of such a center.

With this in mind, Habitat Japan made a decision to support Nishihara and the center. Habitat created a plan called “Youth for Kumamoto”, and since the end of April staff and volunteers implemented urgent support projects through the following actions:

  • Management support for the Nishihara disaster volunteer center
    Habitat supported the operations of the center to respond to the needs of families affected by the quakes, and set up a support team focusing on housing. As they volunteered, the team lived at the center, where they offered information to affected homeowners on reconstructing housing. Volunteers also helped families to clean up their damaged houses. Habitat Japan added another function to the center, acting as a bridge to connect skilled volunteers, including architects, with local people who had problems rebuilding their houses.
  • Support for volunteer activities by youth in disaster-stricken areas
    This program created opportunities for Habitat for Humanity Japan campus chapter members to work as volunteers in disaster-stricken areas. Habitat not only responded to the needs of people in areas affected by the disaster, but Habitat also mobilized campus chapter members across the nation to promote the fact that Kumamoto needed major relief assistance.

    Within the period of about 100 days after the disaster struck, a total of 104 youth volunteers participated in disaster volunteer activities in Kumamoto prefecture.
  • Support for local people in the community
    Habitat supported the rehabilitation of the Mantoku Community Center, which is located in Nishihara, in Kumamoto prefecture. Mantoku is the second largest district in Nishihara where127 families were living before the Kumamoto Earthquake. By rehabilitating the center, people of the community are now able to reconnect with each other, a starting point towards revitalizing their community.
  • Local people’s participation in craftwork workshop
    Responding to the needs of those who had moved into makeshift housing units without storage space, Habitat organized a craft workshop to create furniture with the help of volunteers and local builders. The event reminded participants that close cooperation among volunteers and local residents, can help to build a better living environment.

Habitat Japan is grateful for the support that it has received from individuals, companies and other organizations that assisted Habitat’s nearly 100-day-long relief activities in Kumamoto prefecture. These programs were made possible by support and cooperation offered by Alwaleed Philanthropies, individuals, companies and other organizations. In addition to volunteering in Kumamoto, Habitat campus chapter members raised funds through an on-the-street fundraising campaign.

Habitat Japan will continue to seek solutions to problems regarding housing, by working with partners at home and abroad, with campus chapters, individual supporters, companies and other organizations. With their support Habitat is working towards a vision, of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.