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Peace Boat Grant Summary


Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 2011

Peace Boat volunteers prepare for a day of debris removal on May 21, 2011

Peace Boat is a non-governmental organization established in 1983 that promotes peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development, and respect for the environment through global education programs, cooperative projects, and advocacy activities on global peace voyages.  Peace Boat has carried out emergency relief operations for the past 15 years, delivering emergency assistance and raising funds, as well as coordinating the dispatch of logisticians, interpreters, and volunteer teams to affected areas all over the world.

Direct Relief has supported Peace Boat since April 2011 with  cash grants to fund earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster relief and recovery efforts.

Peace Boat’s disaster relief efforts in Japan have concentrated on Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, a city of 160,000 with 5,000 dead or missing and over 23,000 displaced after the tsunami. Within one week of the disaster, Peace Boat sent a team to Ishinomaki City to collect information about the damage and needs, as well as distribute 10 tons of emergency aid.  Funding from Direct Relief has been used to support volunteer clean-up of cleaning debris from roads and buildings.


  • Miyagi Prefecture: Ishinomaki City


Emergency Relief Program Grant – 2011

Project Dates: May 1 – December 31, 2011
Amount: $310,000

Peace Boat has provided assistance to survivors of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, including those living  in evacuation centers and homes in and around Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.  Although many structures are still standing and inhabitable, the tsunami deposited thick, black mud throughout Ishinomaki City in layers five to ten centimeters thick.  Clearance of the mud is needed to provide residents with safe and usable buildings to return to and resume their normal lives.

An estimated 30% of the Ishinomaki City’s civil servants died during the disaster and many survivors are unable to work.  This shortage of manpower has left a gap in the city’s ability to conduct the huge amount of clean-up needed.  Peace Boat volunteers  fill this gap by dedicating hundreds of thousands of hours to cleaning up mud and debris.

Brett Williams, Direct Relief’s Director of International Programs, said “Peace Boat has gone above and beyond executing its intended operations.  The staff and volunteers have performed in a distinguishing quality well outside expectations and unmatched in other areas affected by the disaster. The manner in which Peace Boat has influenced the continuing recovery of Ishinomaki has become the model and example that government agencies and non-governmental organizations are attempting to reproduce.”

Peace Boat’s relief and recovery activities are detailed below:

  • Basic Needs Fulfillment: Peace Boat provided hot meals, hot baths, and other staples to fill societal gaps created by the earthquake and tsunami. Over 110,000 meals were provided in over 26 locations in Ishinomaki, overseen by a professional nutritionist as well as trained chefs and cooks working to provide healthy choices.
  • Income Generation: Peace Boat cleaned and sold cans of fish products that were dispersed by the tsunami.  Proceeds go to the fish product factory to stimulate its rebuilding and reopening.  Peace Boat is exploring opportunities to engage in other economy-boosting activities.
  • Mud Clearance:  Peace Boat cleaned mud and debris from homes, business, and public areas with appropriate equipment (boots, gloves, tools, etc).  Since the tsunami, over 1,200 houses have been cleaned in addition to roads, factories, cemeteries, and more.  Over 10,235 volunteer working days have been spent clearing the tsunami-damaged port areas and recovering damaged fishing equipment.
  • Temporary Housing Support: Peace Boat supported over 8,000 people in 120 temporary housing communities in Ishinomaki City.  Peace Boat volunteers visit each house one by one to hand out newsletters, interact with residents, and try to understand and address their physical and mental needs.  Peace Boat volunteers work to avoid ‘solitary deaths’ (kodokushi), a phenomenon in which people lose the will to take care of themselves and they are thereafter left alone and neglected.  This was a common occurrence among the elderly population after the Kobe earthquake in 1995.
  • Volunteer Program: Between 250-280 volunteers work with Peace Boat weekly, staying for days, weeks, or months.  In the six months following the earthquake, over 7,000 volunteers were deployed to the affected area.  Each volunteer goes through an intensive training course before starting work with Peace Boat; advanced volunteers are trained and certified to train others.
  • Local NGO Support: Ishinomaki City local NGO, Ishinomaki 2.0 had joined in partnership with Peace Boat to assist victims of the tsunami.  Ishinomaki 2.0 has engaged in activities designed to support local shop owners and stimulate the local economy.

Emergency Relief Program Grant – 2012

Project Dates: January 1 – December 31, 2012
Amount: $500,000

Peace Boat’s second phase of emergency work continues and expands on the work done in 2011.  Past the emergency relief phase, Peace Boat’s mission is to support the long term social and economic recovery of the town of Ishinomaki and surrounding areas.  In a project proposal, Peace Boat says, “The collaboration between Direct Relief and Peace Boat has greatly left a trusting impact on the Ishinomaki community.”

Goals for recovery work in 2012 include continuing support of local residents and the local economy, and expansion of capacity to train and dispatch volunteers.  Peace Boat is collaborating with various universities and NGOs to carry out activities and develop disaster relief training for volunteers.

Peace Boat’s major recovery activities are detailed below:

  • Mud and Debris Clearance:  Peace Boat cleaned mud and debris from homes, business, and public areas with appropriate equipment (boots, gloves, tools, etc.).  Priority for receiving assistance is based on need.
  • Temporary Housing Support: Disaster survivors have very few people to communicate with, as fellow residents of the temporary shelters are also burdened by loss.  Due to cultural factors in this very traditional region, survivors are less inclined to make use of counseling services.  Volunteers, as outsiders, can provide a safe outlet to share their experience.  Volunteers can express the needs of the survivors and seek professional assistance if needed.  Other assistance provided includes planting gardens, moving furniture, and distributed newsletters.
  • Volunteer Program: Peace Boat deploys 400-500 trained volunteers weekly.  Although the number of volunteers has been decreasing, Peace Boat is encouraging corporate and academic participation.  Peace Boat is investing in the training and registering in volunteers due in part to the realization that “Training [volunteer] individuals in disaster relief is a crucial investment for Japan, a country which will inevitably suffer natural disasters in the future.  Insufficient volunteer coordination is a critical weakness in the system, leading to an under-utilization of human resources in the aftermath of catastrophe.”
  • Fishery Support: Volunteers are being trained to salvage and clean fishing equipment and return it to local fishermen to expedite the recovery of this important industry


Read personal stories about Peaceboat in Japan: http://peaceboatvoices.wordpress.com/

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