China Quake Efforts Shift to Reconstruction

( [email protected] ) May 02, 2010 09:33 AM EDT

Post-quake efforts in China are shifting from rescue and relief to reconstruction and resettlement as the death toll from the April 14 temblor leveled out this past week at more than 2,200.

“The first days after the earthquake, people did not have tents yet and the temperatures were freezing at night, a few degrees over zero. Now people have received tents, stoves and more from the government,” reported Paul Liu from Caritas Taiwan, which worked together with its partners in China to deliver relief materials to survivors of the earthquake.

Since the 7.1-magnitude quake hit western China’s Qinghai province on April 14, local relief groups have been working tirelessly on the ground to distribute relief goods, backed by larger international organizations, including Caritas Internationalis and ACT Alliance.

According to Meimei Leung, leader of the assessment team in the affected area for international NGO World Vision, adequate shelter and warm clothing for children and families was a key concern as average temperatures in the area have been hovering between -3 to 14 degrees Celsius.

Fortunately, in Caritas’ case, relief efforts were quickly organized thanks to the group’s previous work in the area.

“Thanks to our previous experience in this region, where we supported the construction of a school in Jiegu over the last years, we know a lot of locals and are familiar with the area. That helped us organize relief operations quickly,” Liu shared in Caritas’ report this past Thursday.

“The most urgent needs are taken care of for now,” he added. “Then these people will still need help to rebuild their lives.”

Caritas Taiwan said it is already planning on supporting the reconstruction of the primary and secondary school that it had helped build in Jiegu that was almost completely destroyed.

Staff from different Caritas members and local partner organizations, meanwhile, remain in the disaster area to offer medical aid and counseling.

Also on Thursday, ACT Alliance made a preliminary appeal for $1.3 million to go toward post-quake projects to be completed by November. The global alliance of churches and related agencies has been supporting relief efforts though member agency Amity Foundation, which has been responding from the emergency onset.

Last month’s quake left more than 12,000 injured in Qinghai’s Yushu County.