Progress report: Rebuilding communities one year after quake

China, April 18, 2014

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  • Photo: Alexandra Corazza for Mercy Corps

Nearly one year has passed since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated communities in China’s Ya’an Prefecture, leaving thousands displaced and two million impacted across the region.

After a disaster like the April 20 quake, we partner with local organizations to maximize our reach and provide the support families really need — and our partnership with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) enabled us to quickly respond to the needs of families whose lives had just been turned upside down.

Today, we’re still working together with CFPA to help communities in the disaster-prone region move past the trauma and rebuild stronger.

As the one-year mark of the earthquake approaches, we’re looking back on a year’s worth of progress, and looking ahead toward what more we can do.

After the disaster: Meeting basic needs

In the days after the quake, the country’s government provided emergency shelter materials and food for the displaced. But, the need for hygiene materials was great as many displaced families lacked access to adequate lavatories and hygiene facilities.

Hygiene supplies

We distributed 27,000 hygiene kits to families living in camps or temporary shelters. The kits contained essential items, like soap, toothpaste, diapers and insect repellent, to keep a family of four clean and healthy for 30 days.

READ MORE: Hygiene kits help earthquake survivors in remote villages

After the disaster: Helping children heal

Traumatic events — losing a home, loved ones or sense of safety — can have lasting negative affects on children. After the quake, we quickly implemented programs to help vulnerable youth recover emotionally, return to school and regain a feeling of normalcy.

Comfort for Kids

Almost 6,000 children participated in our Comfort for Kids program in primary schools throughout the damaged region. The program uses activities like writing and drawing to help children process trauma, and teaches local caregivers how to provide emotional support for children who have been affected by disaster.

SEE PHOTOS: Celebrating recovery in communities rattled by earthquake

Moving Forward

Thousands of kids also benefitted from our Moving Forward program, which utilizes sports and games to build children’s self-esteem, communication skills and ability to work with others. These skills help youth recover from shocks they’ve experienced, and also help build their ability to cope with future trauma.

Reopening kindergartens

We provided school supply kits to 48 damaged schools. Replacing materials like books, art supplies, computers and projectors got classes up and running again, and gave kids a safe place to play and learn while their families worked to rebuild.

We’re also currently working with 160 early educators to rebuild their schools, complete improvement projects, and improve their skills and disaster preparedness in order to provide the region’s students with a better, safer education.

READ MORE: Kindergartens at heart of post-earthquake recovery

Looking forward: Building community resilience

Disaster preparedness education

We’re helping disaster-prone communities prepare for future shocks by providing disaster preparedness training on evacuation plans, leadership in emergency situations, first aid and performing school evacuation drills.

Collaboration with local organizations

We’re working closely with Chinese organizations that operate in the earthquake zone to enhance their ability to respond to the issues the region faces. Empowering local groups with strategic skills has diversified recovery efforts in the quake zone and will build the region’s capacity to withstand future stresses.

Rural economic recovery

The agricultural industry — a fundamental piece of the economy in Ya’an Prefecture — was severely disrupted by the quake. We’re helping farmers in rural areas get back to work — and stimulate the economy — by rehabilitating farming infrastructure, restoring damaged tools and equipment, and providing farmers with financial services to help them restart their businesses.

These efforts to help vulnerable families heal from this disaster — and rebuild stronger for the future — are made possible by our partners. Thank you to Peace Winds Japan and the European Commission for their support, and to the eBay Foundation, Google, Chevron, Qualcomm, the Gap Foundation, Goldman Sachs and Prologis for their generosity.