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Disaster Relief from Kobe and its Significance in the Bam, Iran Earthquake of December 26, 2003

By Tomohide Atsumi and Kyoko Okano


2 non-profit organizations from Kobe, in cooperation with a division of Osaka University, under the name of Message from Kobe (MFK), responded immediately after the Bam earthquake. The authors visited Bam, as well as Kerman and Tehran, twice to provide direct assistance to victims (e. g., cash donation), and to establish a long-term partnership with local Iranian NGOs. Based on our own experiences from the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, it is local NGOs in partnership with governments that will play essential roles in the long-term recovery and reconstruction of Bam. It was also anticipated that many international NGOs would finish their operations and leave the affected area in a few months. Therefore, we intended to focus on local Iranian NGOs and their networks as our partners for long-term activities from relief to reconstruction. We have shared our lessons from Kobe with 2 national networks of NGOs in Tehran, a regional network in Kerman, and a few local NGOs in Bam. Concretely, we have supported: (1) local NGOs to provide child care and job training for women in Bam, (2) Kerman NGO House to bridge its regional NGOs and those in Kobe, and (3) a new NGO network that will specialize in disaster relief. In addition, a psycho-social interchanges through paintings5sketches drawn by children in Bam and Kobe have been initiated. The present study introduces our relief activities, places it in the context of international disaster relief, and theoretically analyzes how experience and knowledge of disaster relief can be transferred to international and local agents to help victims of disasters. It reveals that the contextual background of relationships among international, national, regional, and local NGOs should be taken into account by recipients and suppliers before a disaster, that experience of previous disaster relief may reduce the number of alternatives during improvised activities, and that concern for victims is essential to overcome disaster-fragile societies

Topics: disaster relief, Bam earthquake, international NGO, local NGO, Kobe earthquake, 051.1
Publisher: Center for Civil Society, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:
Provided by: UT Repository

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