As part of our wider peace-building activities, Peace Boat has carried out emergency relief operations for the past 18 years, delivering emergency assistance and raising funds, as well as coordinating the dispatch of experienced logisticians, interpreters and volunteer teams to affected areas all over the world.
Peace Boat’s first disaster relief efforts took place in 1995, following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in Kobe, Japan when teams of volunteers provided assistance, supporting community access to food, water and other basic supplies as well as humanitarian support.
Since then, Peace Boat has organized emergency relief operations in disaster-affected locations around the world, including in Turkey (Aug. 1999), Taiwan (Sept. 1999), Algeria (May. 2003), Mid-Niigata, Japan (Nov. 2004), Sri Lanka (Dec. 2004), Pakistan (Oct. 2005), Indonesia (Jun. 2006), Korea (Aug. 2007) and in the US (Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 2012 & Oklahoma tornadoes, 2013).
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 2011, Peace Boat established the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV), a specialist organization to focus on:
- The on-going relief and recovery of communities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
- Domestic and international disaster relief
- Disaster risk reduction (i.e., disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery), such as the training, dispatch and coordination of volunteers
1. Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
One of our core projects is to support the on-going relief and recovery efforts in Tohoku after the Great East Japan Earthquake from our operations base in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture. In conjunction with the local government, NGOs and other organizations we have been involved in the Ishinomaki area since immediately after the March 11th disaster and are still conducting a number of programs to support affected communities. All of our work is undertaken at the request of local people, and as a result, our programs are highly varied.
Programs in Tohoku include: the ‘Kizuna’ Newsletter psychosocial support for residents of temporary housing in Ishinomaki, the ‘Imacoco’ economic revitalization project which leverages the power of volunteers to inject much-needed labour into local fisheries, and the Garden Installation project which empowers local residents and allowed them to run their own gardens. (Please see attached annual report for full list/details)
2. Domestic and International Domestic Relief
PBV provides emergency support in the wake of major disasters in four main areas: volunteers, supplies, funds and critical information.
Domestically, we have responded to a range of disasters, from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, 2011 to disasters on a smaller scale (E.g., Shizuoka Flooding, 2013). PBV strongly believes in the power of disaster relief volunteerism; one of PBV’s main objectives is to achieve a rapid, sustained and continuous flow of trained volunteers to work in assisting communities affected by disaster. We have established a core system and infrastructure whereby trained volunteers and volunteer leaders can be dispatched to afflicted areas to work in conjunction with local governments and organizations, such as local Social Welfare Councils, in order to deliver effective assistance to those in need. We also believe in harnessing the potential of untrained and spontaneous volunteers by delivering just-in-time trainings and providing experienced leaders in the field for guidance.
In response to disasters in Japan and abroad, we have conducted numerous relief projects in partnership with local community groups. In 2013, we have assisted relief efforts on the ground in the following areas: Shizuoka (June 2013), Yamaguchi (August 2013), Iwate (August 2013), Shiga (September 2013), New York (Nov 2012 – Apr 2013) and Oklahoma (June 2013).
3. Disaster Risk Reduction
PBV believes in the importance of all phases of the disaster cycle; disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Through activities such as the Disaster Relief Volunteer Training Program, we help to prepare and strengthen civil response in times of disaster and fortify national and global disaster relief networks. Initiatives customized for vulnerable groups are also conducted, such as our English-language and Burmese-language training sessions for foreigners living in Japan. PBV also actively works to promote and strengthen links between corporations and civil society organizations in disaster response, through formal cross-sector partnerships and networks, such as the “Network of Civil Disaster Response Organizations and Supporters of Disaster-stricken areas” (a network of over 80 corporations and non-profit organizations).
PBV engages with the wider international community through participation and involvement in conferences such as the Global Network for Disaster Reduction (The Hague, March 2013) and the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Geneva, May 2013). PBV is also a member of the “Quality and Accountability Working Group in Japan”, promoting and educating relief workers in international standards for humanitarian aid. The organization is also very active in local-level disaster exercises, such as the annual Shizuoka Prefecture multi-sector emergency exercises and disaster planning/response committees.
PEACE BOAT’S RELIEF EFFORTS
Peace Boat’s mission has been to provide immediate emergency relief and support for the long term social and economic recovery of the Tohoku region following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, focusing on the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture and its environs. Peace Boat works in consultation and partnership with local communities, responding to their situation and needs, enabling and empowering them as part of the recovery process. Peace Boat’s operations focus on the training and deployment of volunteers in the belief that volunteers can provide essential support in the physical regeneration of Tohoku, and that the human solidarity they provide is a vital factor in the comprehensive recovery of the region.
Within a week of the March 11 disaster, Peace Boat had established a presence in Ishinomaki, one of the most badly affected towns in Tohoku. Peace Boat began emergency programs to deal with this unprecedented disaster, deploying thousands of volunteers to provide hot meals, distribute relief goods and clear mud. In Ishinomaki Peace Boat continues to work in close collaboration with the local community, authorities and other NPOs active in the region. Specifically, Peace Boat worked and works in partnership with the Social Welfare Council of Ishinomaki; the Ishinomaki Disaster Recovery Assistance Council (IDRAC); the Ishinomaki Mayor’s Office; and the Japan Self Defense Force. Peace Boat is committed to provide support for the reconstruction of the area through the foreseeable future, contributing to strengthening local capacity. Our relief operations are continuing with the following projects.
PBV Introductory Pamphlet (One Page)
PBV Introductory Pamphlet (Seven Pages)
Overview – Peace Boat Emergency Relief Operation (PDF, English) or Overview – Peace Boat Emergency Relief Operation (Spanish) (PDF, Spanish)