On March 11, 2011, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster struck northern Japan, killing over 16,000 people and leaving an estimated 3,000 missing. More than 5,400 people were injured and over 34,000 evacuated. The Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami damaged or destroyed more than 900,000 buildings. It was the strongest known earthquake to ever hit Japan, creating tsunami waves that reached an astonishing height of 133ft and traveled as far as 6 miles inland. The World Bank estimates the economic cost to be upwards of $235 billion, the most costly natural disaster on record.
Immediately following the disaster, Direct Relief and the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) established the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund, committing 100% of all contributions to be used exclusively to help people in Japan in the most productive, efficient manner possible. JACL, which was founded in 1929, is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States and also operates one of its 112 chapters in Tokyo.
Consistent with both organizations’ missions, the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund has been used exclusively to support local Japanese organizations responding to the disaster. All contributions received for the Fund have been used exclusively to help people in Japan, supporting local Japanese organizations caring for the most vulnerable people affected by the earthquake and tsunami, with special focus on people with disabilities and those who are elderly. Local organizations are the first responders, have the most at stake, and will be there long after the headlines fade.
Grassroots organizations working in an emergency often fly under the radar of media attention, and therefore do not attract many resources generously made available to help in the response efforts. They are, however, at the heart of the work being done to save lives and repair communities. JACL and Direct Relief leveraged the generous attention received after the earthquake and tsunami by passing funding and resources on to small, grassroots Japanese groups.
TRACKING PROGRESS AND AID DELIVERED
Direct Relief and JACL have channeled the funds to Japanese non-profit organizations providing relief and recovery services working across the tsunami-affected areas on activities ranging from immediate emergency response feeding and shelter programs to long-term recovery and specialized rehabilitative care for seniors and persons with disabilities.
On March 9, 2012, Direct Relief and JACL released an online, interactive map providing a comprehensive overview of tsunami inundation areas and specific site-level information about expenditures, activities, rationale, and progress related to the work conducted by the in-country nongovernmental partner organizations supported by the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund. More than 250 supported project sites are represented on the map. Detailed overviews and metrics about each funded organization and program can be found on the menu to the right.
SPENDING JAPAN RELIEF FUNDS
Of the $6 million in contributions received by JACL and Direct Relief or Japan earthquake and tsunami relief, 81% has been granted to Japanese organizations, another 12% is earmarked to support the long-term needs of the most vulnerable people, and 7% has been spent on program management and oversight, including the hiring of local staff to audit the relief work of grantee organizations.
The interactive map provides both a comprehensive overview of tsunami inundation areas and specific site-level information about expenditures, activities, rationale, and progress related to the work conducted by the in-country nongovernmental partner organizations supported by the jointly administered Direct Relief-JACL fund.
Read more about emergency relief grants to partners in Japan on our blog