General notes and observations from the June 13-21 Tohoku trip


General notes and observations:

1. Evacuation centers
Big gaps in quality and services
Some centers have a lot of goods and some do not
Some are cramped and some have space
Some have sophisticated barriers and some places the leaders will not allow them to use the barriers
People are slowing moving out:
1. Temp housing
2. Back to own homes – not completely destroyed but not necessarily safe
3. With family members
4. To public housing in other parts of Japan

* What about the people in evac centers outside Tohoku?
* Needs: legal services
* Support for GBV

2. Temp housing
People being moved in different ways
1. Lottery, 2 mixing up people to have diverse demographics 3. Moving communities
 4. Moving in those who want to go first

Issues: re: temp housing

Land and timetable
Since land is insufficient – not everyone will be moved in by Sept as planned
Particularly in Iwate

2 years limit – based on Kobe experience, where some people stayed for 5+years
No one believes this – some will stay for more than 3 years, how do people live in the mean time

Access to good s and services
Once they move in they do not get free doo or services.
Free housing but they will need to pay for their own utilities and other bills
Some people are refusing to move into tem housing
Some places have mobile 7-11s and ATMs but these are limited
Some places want to force people out – support? Lack of support?

3. Destroyed / submerged land
There are several places where the land has been destroyed
Either flooded or submerged
Issues:
a. Pests – part. In areas where there were fish factories – how long will pest control be needed, how to not destroy the land and water in the mean time
b. Farm land recovery – desalinations is only part of the problem, some land is covered with rubbish or rotting fish
c. Factory land use – how to recover, when will they get the okay
d. Ownership – how to determine
e. Time line – we heard that it might take 2-3 years for the land to be clean and recovered in some places so that

4. Mental health issues

Suicide & solitary/lonely death are major concerns
May 2011 suicides  +19% compared to May 2010


5. Elder issues – we know that over all 60% and  + in some places 80%+ of those who passed away where elderly
1/3 of the Tohoku population before 
Elderly health needs – diet and meds


6 Economic revitalization/development
Everyone knows jobs are the big need but … many of these places s were suffering financially before the triple whammy
Cannot just rebuild
How to attract young people and jobs
How to not let it become a dying region? To date the government has not addressed the problem – will they address it now?

7 Government plans
Expect plans in late June – national and prefectural
Approval by government in September

8 Questions regarding disaster NGOs commitment to the region
Many are in the midst of deciding what to do next –
Disaster groups usually work in the emergency phase – officially over in Sept but many Japanese disaster orgs are contemplating 2-3 years plans
Many local orgs

Win-win? Or imposition?
Can the international groups help the local groups develop capacity? Or are they imposing international standards?
Are they actually collaborating or are they treating local groups in a condescending manner – making money off of them and taking advantage of their lack of capacity?

Jobs in the nonprofit sector – expanding but are these real jobs

9. Fukushima and the nuclear power concerns
This is clearly in the back of everyone’s minds
Although there is a need for support and more groups say they want to help in F prefecture – the dangers are still
Groups such as bond and justice have changed their focus from support to – get people out

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