The United Nations is pressing on with efforts to help survivors of the massive May earthquake centred in China’s Sichuan province, which claimed some 70,000 lives and left millions of others homeless.
The world body is focusing on assisting the most vulnerable gain access to longer-term shelter, clean water, health care, employment and education.
“This period of recovery where people begin to rebuild their lives and communities is crucial,” said Bernard Coquelin, UN Resident Coordinator in China ad interim and Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
The UN system in China has mobilized nearly $40 million to help survivors of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake this fall and winter.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has launched an early recovery programme aimed at providing reconstruction support for 19 of the poorest villages in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi province.
To help those who lost their jobs and businesses, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is helping re-establish 1,000 destroyed small companies and set up 700 new ones. An estimated 1.5 million people in Sichuan became unemployed as a result of the tremors, with unemployment rates in the hardest-hit areas reaching over 80 per cent.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with the United Kingdom and China’s Health Ministry to conduct an ongoing survey to assess the changing health-care needs in earthquake-affected areas.
UNFPA has prepared nearly 50,000 hygiene kits for women to be distributed this month and is also working with the Government to provide psycho-social report to the most vulnerable, including the elderly.
Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is providing seeds and training to farmers in a bid to recover food production for 1,000 households.
The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is also organizing training sessions for journalists in the region to find the best ways to cover long-term rebuilding.
In addition to setting up dozens of prefabricated classrooms for nearly 40 primary schools in remote areas of Gansu, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is taking part in a plan to boost measles vaccinations in earthquake-hit areas.
The Measles Initiative was launched in 2001 and comprises the UN Foundation, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), WHO, the American Red Cross and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The consortium is providing technical assistance and $4 million in financial support for activities, including a vaccination campaign in quake-impacted Chongqing province.
“Because measles has a high potential for outbreaks, mass vaccination of children against the disease is often a high priority for populations following a natural disaster,” said Edward Hoekstra, UNICEF’s Senior Health Specialist and Coordinator of the agency’s Measles Programme.