Ya'an earthquake response: Partnering to reach families in need


June 12, 2013

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  • Earthquake survivors line up to receive hygiene kits in Shangba Village, where nearly every one of the 300 homes was destroyed. Photo: Hu Ke for Mercy Corps
  • One of the destroyed homes in Shangba Village. Families will be living in tents for many months until they get supplies and support to rebuild their homes. Photo: Cali Livingstone/Mercy Corps
  • Our emergency response team connected with local leaders to assess needs in many of the most remote villages. Photo: Cali Livingstone/Mercy Corps
  • We've started daycare centers, play therapy and sports programs that not only help children recover from trauma, but give parents time to rebuild homes and businesses. Photo: Cali Livingstone/Mercy Corps

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Ya’an Prefecture in central China in late April killed nearly 200 people and affected 2 million across 115 counties. With an office in the quake zone and a strong history of responding to disasters in the area, including the 2008 earthquake in the same region, we were able to mobilize quickly and provide immediate relief to survivors.

Along with our local partner, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), we reached even the most remote communities to assess and respond to their needs, with an initial focus on water and hygiene provisions.

SEE PHOTOS: Damage and living conditions after quake

Nearly two months later, people are still living in tents, their homes destroyed — and many corporate partners have joined us to help these communities recover and rebuild. Several of the global companies have operations and employees living in the surrounding regions and were eager to help. Some even mobilized local staff to reach out to nearby communities.

Their ability to pledge substantial support so quickly and mobilize their global networks of employees allowed us to rapidly ramp up our response on the ground and support survivors immediately in their time of need.

Thanks to the generous support of Qualcomm, Prologis, Goldman Sachs, GAP, Google and Chevron, Mercy Corps, CFPA and other local partners are providing the following:

  • Hygiene kits: We have distributed over 28,000 packages including soap, toothbrushes, diapers and other health care essentials to families. Learn more and see photos ▸
  • Re-opening kindergartens: We're providing school supplies and support so local educators and children can get back to class. The kindergartens provide a safe place for children while their parents work on rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities and seek new job opportunities.
  • Comfort for Kids and Moving Forward: Our signature child psychosocial programs launched last month that help children and their families cope with the trauma and stress caused by the disaster.

While our current focus is on the immediate needs of survivors, in the weeks ahead we will turn our attention to longer term recovery efforts — both for families and for small businesses, helping people bounce back, while building resilience to future shocks.

In recent emergencies like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we provided business start-up and reemployment grants to kickstart the local economies, putting people back to work and strengthening markets. In past emergencies we have also provided Rebuilding Kits, giving families the tools they need to rebuild or deconstruct their homes to salvage personal belongings amidst the rubble.

In disaster prone places, we also work hard to help communities prepare for the next emergency — establishing early warning systems, training community members in disaster preparedness and more — all with the goal of building resilience and decreasing the devastating impact of future events.

By joining together, our partners have helped us reach over 110,000 individuals in the last few weeks. It's just the beginning.

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