Kumamoto Earthquakes: Distribution of sanitary products and operation of soup kitchens.

Concerns regarding sanitary conditions at evacuation centers

In response to the earthquakes that rocked Kumamoto prefecture on April 14, Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) dispatched the emergency response team currently consisting of 6 members, Ben Kato (a board member); Go Igarashi; Kazuya Omuro; Shinichiro Ohara; Masaru Miki; and Yuta Funakoshi. The emergency response team is operating soup kitchens, delivering aid, and conducting needs assessment.
Sanitary products, which are in shortage in affected areas, were delivered to the Gofuku Primary School evacuation center. (Go Igarashi (second person from the right), April 19th, 2016)

On April 19, the team visited two schools in downtown Kumamoto (currently being utilized as evacuation centers) to distribute aid and conduct needs assessment. Survivors walk around in school gymnasiums, which are being used as shelter, with shoes and the school gymnasiums have no partition to provide survivors with privacy. While water and food items are being provided to these sites, the team observed a lack of sanitary products. Survivors are mentally and physically exhausted from the main quake 5 days ago and the strong and persistent aftershocks. AAR Japan’s emergency response team delivered a total of 29 bottles of disinfectant gel, 24 packets of disinfectant wipes, 64 rolls of toilet paper and 500 masks that day. The team also distributed 100 bite-size yōkan (adzuki-bean jelly) donated to AAR Japan by Toraya Confectionery Co., Ltd.

Soup kitchens in the town of Mashiki and Aso city

On April 19, the team continued to operate a soup kitchen in the town of Mashiki in collaboration with The Peace Project, an NPO. Based on survivors’ feedback that they would prefer a relatively more refreshing meal after consecutive days of curry and gyūdon (beef bowl), with the help of local survivors and volunteers, the team served pot-au-feu prepared with plenty of vegetables to 800 people.
Volunteers providing support at the Ino Primary School. (Masaru Miki (second person from the left), April 19th, 2016)
The team also distributed 400 bite-size yōkan. After learning that the Aso City Primary School (currently being utilized as an evacuation center) was in need of food, the emergency response team set off to operate a soup kitchen in the downtown area of Aso city. With the help of local survivors, the team was able to quickly serve curry to 550 people residing in the evacuation center and in areas in proximity of the evacuation center. Survivors commented that it had been a while since they last ate warm dishes and vegetables and the team was reminded of the harsh living conditions of evacuees.
400 bite-size yōkan donated by Toraya Confectionery Co., Ltd. delivered to the Ino Primary School. (Kazuya Omuro (right), April 19th, 2016)
With the help of the local survivors, curry was served quickly at the West Aso Primary School. (April 19th, 2016)

In addition to operating soup kitchens and distributing aid, the team participates in meetings held at the Kumamoto prefecture office. At these meetings, employees of the Kumamoto prefecture, employees of the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and NGOs and NPOs including AAR Japan congregate to share information on day-to-day conditions of the affected areas and status of aid. AAR Japan supplements information gathered during these meetings with information gathered during visits to affected areas to better assess needs.

Aftershocks persist and survivors continue to endure sleepless nights. In hopes that survivors feel safer and maintain their health, AAR remains committed to supporting those affected by the Kumamoto earthquakes.
Survivors struggle to find privacy at school gymnasium evacuation centers. Sanitary condition concerns at evacuation centers are on the rise. (April 19th, 2016)
Worried looks on people’s faces as they follow the news covering the earthquake on a TV at an evacuation center. (April 19th, 2016 West Aso Primary School)

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