relief, temporary housing, yomiuri shinbun

70% of homes get Red Cross appliances / Overseas donors pay for disaster aid, yomiuri shinbun, 7/20/11

Four months after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, one-third of eligible disaster-victim households have yet to receive sets of home appliances to be provided through the Japanese Red Cross Society based on donations sent from fellow overseas organizations, it was learned Tuesday.

The Japanese Red Cross Society has received about 23 billion yen in donations sent from overseas Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, separately from about 1 billion yen directly remitted from overseas donors to the organization.

Of the 23 billion yen, it has decided to use about 19 billion yen to purchase a set of electric appliances such as a TV set and a refrigerator for about 90,000 households. However, delays in procurement and delivery are causing the trouble, sources said.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, overseas celebrities such as U.S. singer Lady Gaga and South Korean actress Choi Ji Woo announced they would make donations, and the amount of quake donations sent from 44 overseas Red Cross and Red Crescent societies hit about 23 billion yen, the largest ever.

The 1 billion yen in donations directly sent from overseas donors is being used to provide quake victims with cash donations.

The donations sent from the overseas organizations were categorized as “overseas relief donations” and the Japanese Red Cross decided to use about 19 billion yen, or more than 80 percent of the total, to provide the appliances to the victims.

A set of the appliances consists of six items: A 32-inch flat-screen TV set, a 300-liter refrigerator, a washing machine, a rice cooker, a microwave oven and a two-liter electric pot. One set is worth from 200,000 yen to 250,000 yen.

Target victims are those who live in emergency residences such as temporary housing units and public rental housing units. Victims living in evacuation centers or their own homes are not eligible to receive the appliances.

Some victims said they had already purchased all six products before they were informed of the gifts.

The Japanese Red Cross asked domestic household appliance manufacturers to supply their products. Delivery and installation of the devices started in early April. As of last Wednesday delivery and installation of the appliances had been completed in about 59,700 households, or 66 percent of the total target households.

In addition to procurement delays, the number of target households sharply increased as the organization expanded the targets to include victims who now live in privately run apartments, according to the Red Cross’ own analysis.

The organization said it would like to finish delivery of the appliances to all the victims by the end of September.

This is the first case of presenting a set of home appliances to disaster victims. At the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, pots were delivered to disaster victims.

“The program was started based on the requests of the quake-hit prefectures. We explained to overseas Red Cross organizations and got their approval,” a Japanese Red Cross official said.

“We had a discussion based on a list of donation options the Japanese Red Cross provided and decided on the electric appliances,” a Miyagi Prefecture official said.

However, officials of Iwate and Fukushima prefectures said it was the Red Cross that proposed the appliances.

“We’ll ask an external organization to evaluate the program. If there are points we have to reflect upon, we’d like to do so,” the official added.

As quake-hit areas struggle to recover, only about 59.6 billion yen, or 20 percent of about 294.7 billion yen donated to four major charity organizations including the Japanese Red Cross Society, had reached victims as of July 6, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

(Jul. 20, 2011)
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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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