China: One month on, the Red Cross Red Crescent still addressing vital needs of earthquake survivors

Published: 13 June 2008

It has been one month since an 8.0 magnitude earthquake devastated cities across south-western provinces of China, displacing more than 15 million from their homes and towns and killing nearly 70,000, according to the ministry of civil affairs. However, much has been done in the past month to help families recover and rebuild after losing so much.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies continues to support relief and recovery efforts of the Red Cross Society of China by providing clean water, proper sanitation and tents.

Safe, clean drinking water is a priority in the affected areas. Currently, two Red Cross Red Crescent water purification units are providing clean drinking water for up to 30,000 people each day. These water purification units are reaching hospitals, schools and families living in temporary shelters in Jiulong and Xinglong townships.

"The water needs to be safe and it needs to be accessible to people," says Jaime Bara, head of the Spanish Red Cross emergency response unit in Jiulong. “Following the destruction of many buildings in the earthquake, rubble surrounding existing wells makes it difficult to keep them clean, increasing the risk of pollution, this is a critical challenge.”

In Jiulong and Banqiao townships, the International Federation is providing proper sanitation and hygiene training and education. Around 90 latrines have been completed or are under construction in Jiulong and Banqiao townships. There have been requests for significant numbers of additional sanitation facilities from local communities to service temporary schools being constructed in the area. The Red Cross is moving quickly to address these needs.

There is also still a great need for tents. The International Federation is mobilizing up to 100,000 tents which are arriving daily in Chengdu and expected to be completed by the end of June.

“Tents are a vital tool in providing immediate relief while long term sheltering approaches are being developed,” says Simon Eccleshall, senior recovery officer for the International Federation. “Following any disaster, the greatest needs are shelter, clean water and proper sanitation, the Red Cross remains committed to meeting these critical needs.”

The International Federation has launched a 96.7 million Swiss francs (USD 92.7 million / euro 59.5 million) appeal to support a three year emergency and recovery programme for approximately 500,000 earthquake affected people. Immediate relief efforts are targeting 100,000 people over the next 12 months, and will support earthquake relief and recovery programmes, including distribution of emergency relief, temporary and permanent housing, water and sanitation, health services, rebuilding schools and clinics, as well as recruiting and supporting Red Cross volunteers and teams specialized in relief coordination, medical care, and psychosocial support.