Minamisoma, Fukushima, Japan
Community Development & Horticultural Activities
Duration: April 2015 – December 2016
Funder: Japan Theravada Buddhist
Since 2013, Theravada Buddhist Association helps ICA Japan with funding the horticultural activities to build communities in temporary housing. The result has been great. More people than expected participated. They realised the effect for them and stated that they want to continue to do the flower planting.
At our visit this September, community leaders expressed new hopes and goals for future cooperation with ICA Japan and Theravada.
In the area, overall, the radiation from the TEPCO power plant has been decreasing, but air polution remains. Even after 5 years most of the 189,768 people cannot go home yet. In the Namie and Odaka area, the temporary houses will stay occupied in 2016 and 2017. People are frustrated, because they cannot predict their future after this year. They are mentally distressed living in these small shelter houses without knowing about their future. Under these circumstances, horticultural activities and interpersonal exchange events help to add some happiness to their lives. We are very grateful to Theravada for helping us to realize these activities!
In the project period of 2016, we are working with six different communities in the areas of Ushigoe, Oshika and Haponai. We encourage all 567 households to participate in the activities. So far the response has been great!
The activities we offered:
- Counseling and community development trainings
- Distribution of seeds and materials for horticultural activities
When evaluating the impact so far, we noticed that over time, their smiles got brighter and the atmosphere lighter. Visiting Fukushima regularly, listening and talking to the people brought hope to them. Planting flowers and vegetables, besides their visual appeal, have also played an important role in recovering a healthy social life and mind for the people. Reconnecting to nature and other people opens their heart and encourages hope. Also their friendships have deepened. This helps to overcome the traumas and fears most of them experience. In the past five years after the Earthquake, people in the communities keep their relationships through the horticultural activities and thanks to Theravada ICA Japan was able to continue the activities in the communities this year. Eventually the people will be able to return home, and we will see how we can continue our engagement for them!
March 11, 2011, the day that the earthquake happened, the area had severely low temperature. A lot of people were running to the shelter with only what they had at that moment. The shelter was in the schoolyard and their city hall. In the course of emergency recovery, a lot of them had to move to different places for five to seven times. In the end they settled down in temporary housing facilities.
Prior to the disaster, the main income was generated from fishing and agriculture. People who were engaged in the fishing industry (1119 people) had to quit their jobs because of the radiation. Shortly after, the CEO`s gathered and had a workshop with ICA and talked about what they have to do to restart their fishing business. This paved the way for fishermen to do test fishing and to prepare for normal life.
Children couldn’t play in their schoolyard in summer despite the high temperature, they had to keep the windows closed and wear masks and long shirts (clothes). For the safety, during daytime, children went to Kashima area by bus to study. A lot of families were afraid of the pollution and moved to other prefectures. From that point on, no children’s voices couldn’t be heard in the town. The area was like a ghost town.
- Before the earthquake 71,561 people lived there, in 2015 there are 54,926, and as of October 2016 56,979. Before the earthquake, people were living in big houses with two or more generations, but now they have to fit into small temporary houses and families cannot live together anymore.
- Lastly, there are many young people who moved away from that area. With that the city became inactive and lacks energy.
When we started our horticultural activities, it helped in recovering peoples mental health and communication. They began to move on and look forward to 2017.
1. When the radiation became lower, which was coming from the nuclear power plant, government decided that some people can go back, some cannot. There is a difficulty of recreating a community after going back.
2. Also reestablishing an environment for families and revitalizing local industries will become a challenge.
3. There is a need for alternative energy.
The picture shows the radiation levels in Minami Soma in September 2016. In comparison to Tokyo, where radiation, as of December 19, 2016, is 0,031 mSv, the range in Minami Soma is 3 to 110 times higher.
For 2017, ICA is in dialogue with potential funders to find the appropriate actions to continue and further prepare for the gradual return to their own land.
ICA has been conducting materials distribution in Miyagi, Fukushima Prefecture immediately after the northeastern earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. In the environment invisible future, the activity carried out planting flowers for people of temporary housing. Also, the activity restarted the discussion and wish to regain agriculture and reconstruction for our young farmers. They want to create a bright living environment in Minamisoma. Activity is supported by Japan Post New Year's donation grant, and agriculture is supported by Fish Foundation for planting flowers.
From 13th Feb. to 31st Feb. 2012
Through the grant from Japan Platform, ICA has been working on the community development activities at Shinchi machi and Souma shi, Fukushima pref.
The following is the details of the activities:
1. THE FLOWER PLANTING PROJECT
There are 8 temporary housing sites at Shinchi machi, Fukushima pref. and ICA will run the Flower Planting Project with the people of all temporary housing sites and the volunteers of the neighborhood. Spring at Shinchi machi is coming soon, and we are excited to rebuild the town with a lot of colors and smells of beautiful flowers.
2. SHARED STORAGES AT THE TEMPORARY HOUSING SITE
Temporary housings will become in use longer than they are originally expected, and the residents of the housings have already been running out of the enough space to keep their own belongings. ICA set up the shared storages at Shinbayashi temporary housing site, Shinchi machi, Fukushima Prefecture. Inside of the aluminum-made storage, hand-made shelves will be made and installed by ICA and the residents.
3. FISHING MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION TO SOUMA-FUTABA FISHERY COOPERATIVE
Fishing materials will be given to Souma-Futaba fishery cooperative, which has been preparing to restart its fishing business.
The following pdf's illustrate our work on Tohoku and the plight of the people in the vicinity of the nuclear plants disaster. The first is a comprehensive report and the remaining are step by step activities.