Saga Prefecture's Affected Areas: Difficulties Continue After Two Months: Heavy Rainfall in August 2021

 More than two months after the torrential rains of August 2021, which caused extensive damage, mainly in Saga Prefecture, many people in the affected areas are still evacuating from their homes on the second floor of their flooded houses. AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan) started its emergency relief activities immediately after the disaster and is currently providing "outreach" support to evacuees at home by delivering boxed lunches and consulting on their problems, as well as providing supplies to local welfare facilities and homes of people with disabilities.

AAR's Shinichiro Ohara delivers a boxed lunch to a woman in the Kitagata-Cho, Takeo City.

This summer's torrential rains in Saga prefecture have been characterized by the fact that many victims of the spread of the new coronavirus have not gone to evacuation centers but continued to live as evacuees on the second floor of their flooded homes, unable to use the kitchen on the first floor and forced to live in inconvenient conditions with tatami mats and floorboards removed.

In the Kutsugu area of Takeo City, where 47 out of 64 houses were flooded above floor level, AAR is continuing to serve food to the people based at Mitsuwa, a non-profit organization (Representative: Chiyomi Arakawa) that operates the "Ebisu" home for the aged, and has delivered 1,843 lunch boxes by October 15. The soup kitchens are run in cooperation with the NPO Peace Project (Representative: Mr. Ben Kato), the local community association in the area, Green Coop Saga, and the private volunteer center Omoyai.

AAR Director Kato (Representative of NPO Peace Project) serving rice cooked in a rice cooker.

One evacuee in the Kutsugu area said, "Although water and electricity have been restored, the first floor is still without floorboards, so I don't feel like cooking meals there.

In addition to delivering lunch boxes, another critical role of the outreach support is to go door-to-door to ask about problems and gather information about homes of people with disabilities that have become isolated due to lack of support. Based on the interviews and surveys, AAR provides daily necessities to the homes of elderly people who live alone and households of people with disabilities (seven households in Takeo City, Omachi Town, and Kurume City). A father of a single-parent family with a disabled person in Kurume City said, "Our house on the first floor of our apartment building was flooded above floor level, and we were at a loss because we could hardly use our daily necessities. We were barely able to make ends meet, so we are very grateful for the support we received.

In addition, AAR has provided office equipment, farming equipment, and health equipment to four community centers where people with disabilities work to support the restoration and reopening of welfare facilities. A staff member of Kibagon, a community workshop in Omachi run by the NPO Egarite, said, "We were feeling hopeless after the disaster, but with AAR's support, a light of hope has been lit, and smiles have returned to the faces of the users and staff.”

AAR's support activities focus on people with disabilities and the elderly who are placed in the most challenging position during disasters. The situation in the affected areas of Saga is still challenging. We would like to ask for your continued warm understanding and cooperation.

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*If the amount of your donation exceeds the amount needed for the designated emergency relief activities, it will be used for the following emergency relief. Please understand in advance.

*AAR Japan is taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of coronary infections during its relief activities in the affected areas. AAR Japan has formulated its own "Guidelines for Emergency Assistance in Japan under the Influence of New Coronaviruses," referring to the guidelines of related organizations. When staff from the Tokyo Office visit facilities, they wear masks and disinfect their hands after confirming negative PCR results.


Ethiopian Refugees Forced to Live in Poor Sanitation Areas

The onset of clashes last November between the government forces and armed groups in the northern Ethiopian state of Tigray resulted in an enormous number of displaced people in the neighboring countries. Of these, more than 60,000 have fled to refugee camps in eastern Sudan where the water and sanitation conditions are critically insufficient. Amid the global pandemic, the refugees are also at a high risk of COVID-19 infection as a result. To address these issues, AAR Japan started emergency relief activities such as distributing hygiene kits and installing water tanks in cooperation with a local partner organization.


AAR field staff members listen to Mevlitt (right) who lives in the Tunaydbah Refugee Camp (10 August)

The newly established Tunaydbah Refugee Camp in Gedaref State, Sudan, is home to approximately 8,800 families with 19,500 individuals. Their living conditions have been devastated in the current rainy season – tents were broken by strong wind and heavy rain; paths and outdoor toilets were flooded by poor drainage. Adding to the concerns of COVID-19 outbreak, cases of hepatitis E have been reported in the camp. To improve and mitigate poor sanitary conditions, AAR will; 1) distribute hygiene items (masks, soap, dustbins, mosquito nets, etc.), 2) set up water facilities (40 water tanks and 30 hand-washing stations), 3) offer awareness-raising activities on hygiene precautions including COVID-19 measures. 


Tunaydbah Refugee Camp flooded in the rainy season (13 July)

Here are some of the voices of refugees in the Tunaydbah Refugee Camp during the needs assessment for these activities.


Ms. Mebrit (31 years old, female)

We were living in a town near the border with Sudan. One night in November last year, an air raid suddenly started, and my husband and I crossed the border with our two daughters aged eight and one. Unfortunately, I could not bring my parents with me and left them in the town in the urgent situation. After we were received by the Sudanese border guards, we stayed in a simple tent for two months, then relocated to Tunaydbah.

In Ethiopia, I had a job, and life was comfortable. I was a teacher, and my husband was a farmer. Here, however, we spend most of our time only doing housework, even though I sometimes attend embroidery and sewing courses at the women's center. When the conflict is over and it becomes safe, I would like to return to my home country, otherwise, I will have to stay in Sudan.

Mr. Birhan (30 years old, male)

It was all of sudden. I woke up in the morning and found the world changed. The only thing I could do was to take my family to flee to Sudan. I was sure that we will be in hell if we stayed in Tigray. On the way to Sudan, we saw many people lying on the roadside. We just walked and walked without eating or drinking.

In the refugee camp, I help support aid organizations and participate in hygiene awareness sessions to keep my family healthy.

It's deplorable to live in this flooded place with poor sanitary conditions. In addition, we cannot eat well or work here either. I often talk with acquaintances about our future and share information about Tigray. Of course, I would like to go back home as soon as we can.

Mr. Birhan (left, 4 August)

Ms. Danat (18 years old, female)

I jumped out of my bed at 5 am from the bombing sounds. Then I rushed to the Sudanese border with my parents. During the evacuation, there were children, women, and elderly people randomly gathered together. We were all under the horrible fear that we would be caught, killed, or sexually assaulted. Luckily, the Sudanese border guards gave us shelters.

Like other women, I do housework for my family and sometimes spend time at the women's center. Unlike in Tigray, the refugee camp is safe, but I would like to return home if peace is assured. Having seen so many deaths, violence and people forced to flee their homes, something came into my mind. I would like to engage myself in peacebuilding for future generations.


Ms. Danat(right, 10 August)

AAR has rich experience in aid activities to improve water sanitation conditions and fight against infectious diseases in Sudan. Therefore, we will utilize such knowledge and skills as well as networks to support Ethiopian refugees.


Your understanding and warmest support will be highly appreciated.