The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it is providing logistics support to Kumamoto prefecture in south-western Japan as part of assistance to people affected by strong earthquakes in April.
“Logistics is the backbone of any emergency response,” said Stephen Anderson, Director of the WFP Japan Office. “We are proud to do our part to help the affected people by deploying logistics expertise.”
The activities will be implemented in coordination with the Japan Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a coordinating body supporting relief work by authorities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
In addition, WFP is providing large mobile warehouses, including two that will be set up immediately in the severely-affected towns of Ozu and Kashima, to store relief items and as a volunteer centre.
WFP launched the two-month operation – which is estimated to cost $600,000 – when the request came from the Kumamoto prefectural government on 26 April, and the agency said it stands ready to expand its support if required.
Two major earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks struck the prefectures of Kumamoto, Oita and surrounding areas on 14 and 16 April, resulting in 66 deaths and more than 190,000 evacuees at its peak, according to official figures. While local authorities are putting significant effort into the response, logistical challenges in the management of relief supplies that are pouring in have been reported, WFP noted.
This is the second time that WFP has provided assistance in Japan. In 2011, following the devastating earthquake and massive tsunami that hit the northern region of Tohoku, WFP deployed 27 staff members to organize transportation of relief items, establish logistics hubs with mobile warehouses and support relief activities of non-governmental organizations on the ground.