NGO Participation in Disaster Relief : Profiles of Reconstruction After the Sichuan Earthquake

China Development Brief, No. 50 (Summer 2011)

中文 English

This is our last in a series of articles on NGO responses to disasters that we are making available in commemoration of the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan.  This article highlights the ongoing work of 10 NGO projects in the long-term reconstruction work in the earthquake-stricken areas of Sichuan.

Aside from revealing different approaches and models of NGO work, this article offers several reminders.  One is that reconstruction after a disaster as devastating as the Wenchuan earthquake is a long-term process.  A second is the need for NGOs that are attentive to the needs of local communities.  Finally, it shows that the earthquake not only opened a space for NGOs to participate in the short-term relief effort, but also stimulated new, creative, and often collaborative, NGO initiatives, approaches and models that have been sustained in the long-term reconstruction.

Because of the number of natural disasters over the past three years, more NGOs are participating in disaster relief. On the three-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, several organizations organized activities to share their experiences in disaster relief.

Guo Hong is a scholar at the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, as well as a participant in NGO-sponsored earthquake relief efforts. In July 2010, just two years after the earthquake, many were hasty to declare that “reconstruction was completed.” But Guo strongly disagreed, declaring that “economic, political, cultural, social, and environmental reconstruction has only just begun, and reconstruction itself has created new problems,” and calling for “a ten-year plan for continued reconstruction.”

If Taiwan’s experience with the much less severe September 21, 1999 earthquake is any indicator, it will probably take at least 10 years to fully recover from the far more destructive Wenchuan earthquake. Even three years after the earthquake, reconstruction efforts seem to have accomplished little, and there are still a host of social problems that need to be addressed.

Related to this is the effort of civil society.  Public interest organizations have made a significant contribution to continuing relief efforts, including innovations in social reconstruction. Guo has studied the activities of many of these organizations.  These case studies reveal the challenges of “post-reconstruction,” and point to appropriate solutions.

Case 1: The “Lehe” Model for Rural Reconstruction– Lehe Jiayuan (乐和家园) in Pengzhou City’s Daping Village

Initiated by the well-known environmental activist Liao Xiaoyi(廖晓义)reconstruction in Daping village (in the township of Tongji in Pengzhou city) preserved the village’s historical integrity by helping villagers acquire government investment to improve transportation infrastructure in the area.  [Editor’s Note: Liao Xiaoyi is the founder of the Beijing-based environmental NGO, Global Village (地球村).  This project was one of the first grassroots NGO projects to receive Chinese Red Cross funding.]  In addition, the Lehe Ecological Preservation Association (乐和生态保护协会) mobilized village residents to actively participate in reconstruction, and it was decided to take the opportunity offered by reconstruction to develop the village’s eco-tourism industry.  Residents built “green” houses, replete with environmentally friendly toilets and gas stoves, developed more eco-conscious agricultural practices, and helped residents to start a local embroidery industry. In this process, every major policy decision was implemented with the input of the local residents.

Case 2: A Community Model that Begins with Children– Student Action’s “New Summer Life”

Student Action (助学行动)is an education-focused public interest organization that began its relief efforts in Wenchuan immediately after the earthquake. In the heavy hit region of Pengzhou, Student Action provided schools with emergency lighting systems, lightning protection systems, electric fans, and other facilities. In order to meet the needs of bereaved and displaced children, Student Action also decided to set up a “New Summer Life” activity center in Pengzhou. With the help of university student volunteers, the center hosted fun interactive programs for local children, aimed at reducing the negative psychological impact of the earthquake and its aftermath. In cooperation with the Beijing Horizon Education Center of China (北京泓德中育), Student Action also installed eco-friendly toilets, and worked with Qianqiu Zhudu (千秋助读) to put together a small library. In addition, by working through the elementary school at the Xiaoyudong temporary housing district, Student Action provided counseling, community performances, and self-help programs to assist residents in rebuilding the local economy

Case 3: Mobilizing Community Residents in the Construction of Residential Housing During the Resettlement Period in Mianzhu City’s Zundao Township

The Sichuan Assistance Team (援川团队)of the Shaanxi Women’s Research Assocation (陕西妇研会)mobilized residents to cooperate in the construction of temporary housing. [Editor’s Note: the Shaanxi Women’s Research Association (whose full name is陕西妇女理论婚姻家庭研究会) is one of China’s oldest, and best-known NGOs. It was founded by Gao Xiaoxian in 1986 and registered as a social organization (社会团体) in 1999.] The team developed three different types of low-cost temporary facilities to fit the needs of earthquake-affected areas, and with the input and planning of a total of 128 local residents, they constructed 36 buildings. These temporary housing communities have become a public space where disaster victims as well as the elderly and infirm can all congregate. This public space has strengthened the ability of local residents to organize themselves. In larger temporary housing communities, the Sichuan Assistance Team has also constructed children’s playgrounds, as well as public sanitation facilities such as showers and toilets.

Case 4: Encouraging Local Residents to Create Their Own Livelihoods– The “Phoenix Plan”

The “Fire Phoenix” Women’s Embroidery Skills Training and Livelihood Program (“火凤凰”妇女绒绣技能培训和生计计划)  is a product of the cooperation between the Pudong Association of Social Workers(浦东社工协会) and the Shanghai Sanlin Embroidery Society (上海三林绒绣社合作). The Pudong Association of Social Workers provided part of the production costs for the Embroidery Society to train unemployed or low-income women in embroidery. The Pudong Association of Social Workers then sells the embroidery, providing the women with a fair share of the income. The Association also has a long-term plan– a formal economic co-op, the “Phoenix Embroidery Co-op” (火凤凰绒绣合作社) which they hope will promote stable production and present the women with a commonly owned professional economic association. The members of the “Pudong Social Workers Service Team” (浦东社工服务队)primarily come from the Shanghai Lequn Social Work Center (乐群社工服务社), Sunshine Social Workers (阳光慈善救助服务社), Zhongzhi Community Service Association (中致社区服务社), and Leshi Social Workers Service Association (乐蓍社工服务社), all of which provide services in Dujiangyan County.

Case 5: The Cooperative Model for Residential Reconstruction—Sanjia Neighborhood Homeowners Association in Mianzhu City’s Jiannan Township

After the Wenchuan earthquake, the damage in the Sanjia neighborhood in the Sanxing Community in the Sanjia Community of Jiannan township was assessed as Level D, so severe that complete demolition was recommended. However, some local homeowners opposed the demolition of the buildings. So community representatives surveyed district residents for opinions and suggestions, as well as commissioned an architectural firm to come up with a plan for structural reinforcement of the buildings. But this plan met with the disapproval of another group of local residents, resulting in the formation of two opposing sides.

A decision was then made to hold a consultation meeting on February 23, 2009. A volunteer team from the Community Participation Action served as a third-party mediator and hosted the meeting. In accordance with the mediation process, every homeowner in attendance was allotted time to speak, while all in attendance were allowed to comment on what was said as well as discuss various points of agreement and disagreement. After more than 70 percent of the homeowners in attendance had spoken, a vote was held, and it was agreed that the plans for reinforcement of the damaged buildings should be carried out. The homeowners signed an agreement, plans were submitted to the construction bureau, local residents provided funds for renovation, and work on the damaged buildings began.

Case 6: Post-quake Creation of Village Cooperation Organizations– The Mianzhu City Vegetable Cultivation Co-op

After the Wenchuan earthquake, the Mianzhu Supply and Marketing Co-op (绵竹市供销联社)organized residents. provided them with information and technology services, and founded the People’s Livelihood Vegetable Cultivation Co-op (民生蔬菜种植专业合作社). The co-op received funding from the Red Cross, as well as enthusiastic support from the Sichuan 512 Civil Relief Services Center (四川5.12 民间救助 服务中心)and NGOs participating in earthquake disaster relief, including CCPG(城市社区参与治理资源平台),Horizon Education Center of China(泓德中育), and Wild Grass(野草文化). This support was used to develop the rabbit-raising industry in local communities. CCPG also assisted in the construction of three temporary residential areas, as well as a community arts and recreation center which include study, entertainment, recreational, and exercise facilities.

Case 7: AIDS Prevention Education in Disaster Relief

With the support of UNAIDS, the Aibai Chengdu Youth Center (爱白成都青年中心) implemented a project for the integration of post-quake NGO-sponsored AIDS prevention efforts. While engaging in disaster relief efforts, the Aibai Center discovered that medical workers were taking insufficient measures for HIV prevention, an oversight which during emergency relief efforts can bring disastrous consequences. The Aibai Center translated the UN’s report on Africa’s experience with AIDS entitled “A Guide to HIV/AIDS Prevention in Emergency Situations” (“紧急状况下HIV/AIDS 干预指南”) and following approval of the provincial Emergency Management Office and other government agencies, the guide will be used in China for training purposes.

Case 8: Community Participatory Reconstruction: The “Foundation + Enterprise + Cooperation” Model — The Tumen Folk Village in Mianzhu

The Tumen Folk Village in Mianzhu was poor and under-developed even before the earthquake struck, and it was also one the hardest-hit areas– 93.2 percent of the houses collapsed during the quake, with infrastructure and public facilities also severely damaged. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and Nokia joined forces to support reconstruction of the village, taking a “participatory” approach. Funds that had originally been quantified to each household were donated to village residents in the form of stock equity, which was then used to set up a public fund to support sustainable development for the village.  Through village forums and outside visits, villagers were persuaded to use more than 2.6 million yuan in donated funds to establish a “Minle Zhongyang Specialized Coop” to reconstruct the village collective.  As a stockholder, each village resident would receive dividends on a long-term basis.   At the same time, villagers were trained to participate in public affairs through organizational forms such as a board of directors and a supervising board, and mechanisms such as project bidding, professional management operations and stockholder veto.

Case 9: The Multi-NGO Cooperation Model– The Dazhonghua Community in Luoshui Town

In the temporary residential community of Dazhonghua in Luoshui Town, the NGO Disaster Preparedness Center (NGO备灾中心, hereafter the DPC)with funding from Trafigura Group(托克国际) is coordinating and leading joint social work activities. With the participation of nine different public interest organizations and school clubs, the DPC has developed several two-year projects, including: family education, geriatric wellness, rehabilitation for children with disabilities, entrepreneurship, women’s career services, and social work services for schools and disaster areas. In addition, the DPC has built a community activity center called the “Heart Space” (心空间). The activity center provides a number of services and activities, including career services, entrepreneurship training and financial support, social work services for children and the elderly, community parties and dances, and children’s art competitions. The center serves over 9,000 people each month.

Case 10: Focus on Environment Protection: The Eco-friendly Dry Toilets Program

In many Sichuan villages,  the public toilets are dry toilets, while the private toilets are normally combined with pigsties, which because of unsanitary conditions often spread disease. After the Sichuan earthquake, which compromised many public sanitation systems, the need to improve conditions in public toilets became even more urgent.

A number of public interest organizations, including the China Environmental Protection Foundation (中华环保基金会), Friends of Nature(自然之友), Global Village (地球村), Wild Grass (野草文化), Chengdu Urban River Association (成都城市河流研究会), Rabbit King Research Association of Poverty Alleviation (大邑兔王扶贫中心),and the Farming Assistance Project (爱农项目), worked together to launch the eco-friendly dry toilets project. They were able to construct over 100 public dry toilets, as well as several hundred dry toilets in the homes of private residents. These eco-friendly dry toilets reduce river pollution, the transmission of disease, and the need for waste disposal in disaster-affected areas.

These organizations did not merely install toilets; they used this opportunity to promote a more comprehensive community awareness of sanitation and hygiene, conservation of water resources, and preservation of the local environment, thus empowering residents to become better stewards of their own villages.

This article was revised according to suggestions made by the Social Development Research Group at the Sichuan Science and Technology Consulting Group 四川省科技顾问团社会发展组.


民间救灾:四川5.12 地震灾后社会建设案例
郭虹是四川省社科院的学者,同时也是NGO的行动者,一直亲身参与和协调汶川地震的民间救灾活动。2010年7月,在灾后两年、“重建结束”的话语随处可闻 之际,她撰文疾呼, “灾区自身的经济、政治、文化、社会和生态重建任务应该说才刚刚起步,许多因重建而产生的新问题会持续不断地出现”, 应“及早规划 灾区在未来十年的‘后重建’”。
如果参考台湾9·21地震灾后重建的经历,更为严重、影响面更为广泛的汶川地震,从紧急救灾到灾后重建,再到作者提出的“后重建”,当是一个不少于10年的 漫长过程。作者基于灾区实情的全面调查、经过冷静思考发出的声音,在汶川地震3周年之际,仍然如雷在耳,在现实情形并无明显改观的状况下,灾区重建所面临的大量社会问题,更值得警醒和重视。
与此相关的,是公民社会的努力。在公益组织在救灾和灾后重建中的大规模参与和探索下,许多民间视角、价值不菲的社会建设创新案例已臻成型。作者通过本专题中的另一篇文章,对灾区的社会建设提出了民间视角的政策措施和建议,并对公益组织的行动案例进行了梳理和记录。这些案例当然无法全面概括公民社会参与灾后重 建努力的全貌,但从一个侧面回应了“后重建”正在面临的困境及其应对之道。
由著名环保人士廖晓义在彭州通济镇大坪村发起,重建中保留了自然村的历史形态,不仅帮助村民争取到政府投资的村道项目,彻底改善了山村的交通状况,还通过 “乐和生态保护协会”把村民组织起来投入重建家园。村民通过参与式规划,将生态旅游作为灾后恢复重建的发展方向。结合当地资源条件修建生态住房,倡导家庭 使用环保厕所、沼气灶;帮助农民开展刺绣、生态养殖、种植等农业生产,为绿色生态产品找到出路;将村民民主参与的方式融入到项目开展中,村里所有重大公共决策都通过村民讨论,同时,该项目还特别强调重建中的文化因素。
助 学行动是一家关注教育的公益组织,在汶川地震灾后第一时间就开始采取紧急救助行动,奔赴彭州极重灾区为当地学校援助照明系统、避雷系统、电风扇等硬件设施。随后,考虑到灾区孩子们的家长、老师忙于自救和恢复生产、孩子们在震后难于适应新环境、失去亲人的孩子需要照顾及特殊的心理需求等因素,助学行动决定 在儿童比较集中的彭州3所设立了暑期新生活项目活动中心。招募大学生志愿者,为孩子们开设参与性和娱乐性课程,丰富暑期生活的同时消除灾害给孩子们带来的负面心理影响。该项目还包括了与北京泓德中育合作修建的生态旱厕、与千秋助读合作建立的图书室。在小渔洞板房区中心小学,还为当地社区开展了文化传播、心 理疏导、社区文艺演出、协助村民生产自救等一系列活动。
陕 西妇研会的援川团队在绵竹遵道,通过动员居民合作搭建大棚屋来提升社区的协作能力建设。妇研会根据灾区实际,探索出3种不同的低成本过渡安置房建筑方式, 通过与村民共同讨论、规划、设计,组织村民自建和合作,共搭建过渡性大棚屋36座,参与村民128户,使村民居住条件得到了很大改善。这样的棚屋还通过近邻和宗族关系形成了公共生活空间,并接纳了村里的困难户,形成了一个良好扶助老弱的氛围,提升了村民组织协作能力。项目还引导村民进行农村重建及文化重 建。在棚屋相对集中地点,也特别关注到了儿童娱乐场所以及洗浴、厕所等公共卫生设施的建立。
案例4:鼓励灾区居民自谋生计的模式—— “火凤凰计划”
“火 凤凰”妇女绒绣技能培训和生计计划由浦东社工协会与上海三林绒绣社合作,浦东社工协会为绒绣社提供一定的成本费用,由后者负责在浦东社工所服务的安置点教授失业和低收入受灾妇女绒绣技能,同时通过他们的销售渠道,以公道的报酬回报安置点妇女们的劳动。浦东社工协会还有一个长期考虑:为稳定地从事绒绣生产的 妇女建立一个她们共同拥有、协作协商管理的专业经济合作社——火凤凰绒绣合作社。浦东新区社工协会组建“浦东社工服务队”,人员主要来自乐群社工服务社、阳光慈善救助服务社、中致社区服务社、乐蓍社工服务社,进驻都江堰的安置点提供服务。
在汶川地震后,剑南镇三星社区的三佳小区房屋经过专家应急评估被评为D 级,建议拆除。由于涉及门市利益,部分业主不愿楼房被拆,一些住户代表收集大家的意见和建议,又请绵阳一建筑公司评估,搞了一个加固方案,报建设局备案,引起另一批住户的不满。形成意见对立的双方。
5.12 地震后,绵竹市供销联社积极组织群众开展生产自救,为群众提供信息和技术方面的服务,成立了民生蔬菜种植专业合作社。合作社还得到四川5.12 民间救助 服务中心和在川参与救灾的NGO(城市社区参与治理资源平台、泓德中育、野草文化等)的大力支持,以及红十字基金会援助项目支持,在周围社区发展养兔。在城市社区参与治理资源平台(CCPG)支持下,搭建了3间板房,建立了集培训、学习、娱乐、休闲、健身为一体的文体中心,推进灾后乡风文明建设。
在 联合国艾滋病规划署的支持下,爱白成都青年中心实施了“地震灾后救援NGO 艾滋病干预能力建设”的项目,旨在加强参与四川地震灾后重建的NGO在其救灾项目中整合艾滋病防治活动的能力。爱白在救灾过程中发现医务工作者的自我防护很差,意识到在救灾时没人做防护HIV 感染的工作,后果将会非常严重。他们对联合国根据非洲经验编撰的《紧急状况下HIV/AIDS 干预指南》进行翻译改写,并经省政府应急办等政府机构审稿后,用于举办培训。
案例8: “基金会+企业+合作社”的社区参与式重建模式——绵竹土门民乐村
绵 竹民乐村震前就属于全市较落后的村,又位于极重灾区,房屋倒塌率达93.2%,基础设施和公共设施严重受损。中国扶贫基金会和诺基亚联手支持该村重建,采 取了与众不同的“参与式”支持方式——把原本量化到每户的资金以股权形式赠予村民,并通过股份制的形式使这笔资金成为村可持续发展的公共资源。通过发动村民讨论,和外出考察,说服村民同意用260余万元捐赠资金成立了“民乐种养专业合作社”,重建村集体经济,通过集约化经营的方式发展规模农业,通过分红让每位村民股东长期受益。同时培育村民对公共事务的参与能力,采用理事会、监事会等组织形式,项目招标、职业经理人经营、金股否决等运作机制。
在 什邡洛水镇大中华板房社区,以NGO 备灾中心为核心的一个社会工作联合行动正在进行。这个项目由托克国际资助,NGO备灾中心执行。项目首先向社会公开 征集针对该安置区灾后重建需求设计的社区公益项目,然后通过评审,确定来自四川、重庆、上海等地的9家公益组织和学校社团的项目中标,在该社区开展为期两 年的活动,包括:家庭教育、老人健康、残障儿童身心康复、妇女就业创业、灾区社工、学校社工等。同时,备灾中心还在这个社区建立了名为“心空间”的社区活动中心,内设多个功能区,为社区居民提供就业、创业培训以及无偿创业资金支持,开展儿童和老年社会工作服务,同时举办社区舞会及晚会、举办儿童才艺大赛等 活动,培养提升社区互助精神,每月可直接提供9 000 多人次服务。
四川农村家庭常见的是“猪圈-厕所”合一,而在公共场所通常都是旱厕。传统农村厕所卫生条件差,是滋生细菌、传染疾病的主要途径,所以改水改厕是四川省农村发展纲要的规定目标。5.12 地震后,灾区卫生系统遭到破坏,粪便污染严重,成为传播疾病、威胁健康的重大隐患。
中华环保基金会、自然之友、地球村、野草文化、成都城市河流研究会、大邑兔王扶贫中心、爱农项目等公益组织共同发起了生态旱厕行动,推广生态卫生理念,传授修建生态卫生旱厕的基本知识,在地震灾区修建了100 多个公共旱厕和数百个家庭旱厕。生态卫生旱厕能够有效达到灾区厕所排泄物零污染、零感染、零废弃之目的,并能有效解决农村严重的面源污染问题,还河流以清澈。

Director of the Institute of Sociology, Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences

Translated by Bethany Allen

Reviewed by Shawn Shieh

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