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Day of reflection: One year after Sichuan earthquake, signs of recovery and hope in China

Mara Warwick's picture

We have heard stories of tragedy since the Sichuan - Wenchuan Earthquake, but we have also seen the signs of recovery and hope.
Today is a day of reflection in China. The Sichuan - Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, was an event of immense significance for the people of China. It was one of those events that occur maybe once in a generation, where for many years to come, much discussion will center on the question "where were you when you heard the news?"

Today is also a day of reflection for me. I am thinking about all of the people we have met in Sichuan over the last year who have been affected by the earthquake – the millions who have lost their homes, their land and their livelihood. I am also thinking about the many, many people who have lost loved ones – their children, parents, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers and friends. I have met and spoken with some of these survivors over the last year and they are in my mind today.

Cheerful colors reflect new hope for earthquake victims in Indonesia

Nia Sarinastiti's picture
The 2006 earthquake killed Tito Judi's adopted son and destroyed his house. He feels the cheerful colors of his new home help to lift his spirits.

On an early morning in 2006, an earthquake struck Special Province of Yogyakarta and Central Java in Indonesia. The place, known for its heritage, culture, scenery and humble life of its people, was devastated. The 6.2 Ricther Scale quake killed about 5,700 people and left more than 150,000 families homeless and 50,000 injured. But given the many life hardships that most of people have had to face since losing their homes and loved ones from the disaster, beneficiaries of the Java Reconstruction Fund (JRF) – managed by the World Bank – seem to have beaten the odds and have since long moved on with their lives.

What I found most interesting during my visits to the locations is the sense of style and creativity of the house owners.  Especially in the villages of Bantul, Yogyakarta – the hardest struck area – people can easily identify houses that were funded by JRF through the outstandingly colored, newly constructed houses, painted in cheerful tints of pink, yellow, green, blue, red, or somewhere in between.  How it all started was never revealed, but it seems everyone wanted to get away from the conservative colors of white, crème and grey.

Slowly but surely, life returns in earthquake-affected China

Mara Warwick's picture

Much that remains of Beichuan, China from the earthquake, is buried – reclaimed by the environment.
It has been seven months since the Wenchuan Earthquake devastated Sichuan Province and I have just returned from my seventh trip to the quake zone, this time with World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Yesterday we traveled three hours by bus from Chengdu to Beichuan, the town that was most severely affected during the earthquake. On May 12, the day of the 7.8- magnitude earthquake, buildings collapsed and mountains came crashing down, burying thousands. The ground literally opened up and swallowed people, cars and buildings. A staggering 12,000 people died in Beichuan on that day – about 74 percent of the town's population. More than a thousand children died at the high school alone.

Reducing risk from natural disasters takes partnerships, teamwork

Zoe Elena Trohanis's picture

Image credit: simonpocock at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
If you want to know what movies are being shown on flights across the Pacific, ask me or my World Bank colleagues in the East Asia and Pacific region's Disaster Risk Management team. We have been passing one another by plane for the past month and a half. Responsible for coordinating disaster risk management efforts and activities for the region, we are a busy group, no doubt about it.

I have been in China for the past few weeks supporting the country team to appraise a package of support to China for recovery efforts following the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. One colleague participated in the recent Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Consultative Group meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark and is now in Jakarta, Indonesia working with field staff, the country’s government, and partners on mainstreaming risk reduction into development programs. Another colleague of mine just returned from the Philippines and Vietnam, where she was stranded by flooding in Hanoi. In fact, she had to wade through knee-deep water when leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Finance. Of course, this represents just part of the team, since we work with a broader network of staff based in country offices who manage country-level programs and projects.

October 8 is International Day for Disaster Reduction

Zoe Elena Trohanis's picture

Growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, every year in elementary, junior high and high school, we would participate in hurricane drills. An alarm would sound, and all the kids would file into the interior hallways, sit cross-legged on the floor, and cover our heads with our hands. Some of us, if there wasn't a hallway handy, would crawl under our desks until we were told it was safe to resurface. Thinking back on those drills, I knew they were important but never quite made the link as to why we had to do these exercises, since strong hurricanes never seemed to make their way that far inland while I was growing up. Of course then in 2004, Hurricane Ivan blew through my hometown and caused massive damage, and knocked out my parents' power and water supply for more than a week. I'm sure the local schools put their hurricane drills to good use during that storm.

Launch of earthquake reconstruction video and website

David Dollar's picture

Two weeks ago a World Bank team visited Sichuan, including some of the most devastated areas such as Beichuan county.  My colleagues, Mara Warwick and John Scales, took photos and produced a slideshow --see it below in video version:

 

 

 

 

After the Sichuan earthquake: Where will people live?

Mara Warwick's picture

Approaching the mountains from the Chengdu plain along the main road to Beichuan County, red banners with large white characters expressing support for the earthquake victims and thanks to the rescuers, are strung across the road, as if creating an arbor for all to pass through.  Driving up this road doesn’t feel safe, even now, six weeks after the quak

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