Left: villagers waiting for distribution of grain. Right: wheat flour and rice.
A Report on the Danba Earthquake Aid Program
By Wu Bangfu
Feb 20, 2009
In December 2008 and January 2009, Kham Aid launched earthquake aid program in Little Bawang Village, Bawang Township of Danba County, under the partnership of the Worker Union of Danba County, thanks to the generosity of many donors who responded in the weeks following the May 12 quake in Sichuan.
We selected Little Bawang Village of Bawang Township, which is located 9 km northwest to the county seat, after we compared several candidate villages in the counties of Kangding and Danba. In Little Bawang there are more than 55 households with a total population of over 250. We decided to provide assistance to families that were badly affected by the quake but who did not qualify for a government subsidy or got too little governmental subsidy to achieve a basic standard of living.
Trucking material goods directly to the villagers was the first plan considered by Kham Aid. But, after research, we found that when giving material goods, there is inevitably a misalignment between the type and quantity of goods supplied and the precise needs of the recipients. After discussion with our project partner in Danba, we decided that it is best to give assistance in the form of cash. This ensures that the assistance provided can be adapted to what people really need.
Each family requesting aid was asked to provide information about their economic situation, their urgent needs, and their plan for using the assistance funds provided by Kham Aid. Based on the information we obtained from each family in the village, our local Danba partner and Kham Aid staff jointly worked out the distribution details.
In an effort to avoid causing conflict among families, we also bought 2250 kilograms of rice and 2250 kilograms of wheat flour to distribute among the families in the village so that all of the villagers can feel they benefited from the program.
The greater part of our assistance was provided as cash to 13 families which were most seriously hit by the earthquake. The amounts ranged from 500 Yuan to 4000 yuan according to the degree of damage and their family economic status, for the purchase of their urgently needed timber and cement. In addition, 55 families got rice or wheat flour.
This program was implemented successfully, and both the villagers and our local partner are satisfied with it. The villagers are very grateful to Kham Aid for our contribution to the village. On behalf of the beneficiaries in Danba, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our donors whose kindness will be remembered by people in Little Bawang Village for a very long time.
Above: Kham Aidí»s program assistant Adrol (in blue) and Chen Yongshang (with hat) who represented our partner organization in Danba, together implement the distribution of grain.
Above: villagers carrying the grain home.
Dec 21, 2008
Aid for a damaged village
While the dead have been buried and the immediate humanitarian crisis has passed, the earthquake story is far from finished in western Sichuan where cities and roads were annihilated and livelihoods destroyed. Most of the damage was in Aba Prefecture, but Kangding and Danba counties in Ganzi Prefecture - part of Kham - were also affected.
Little Bawang Village. Seven months after the earthquake, some families are still living in tents.
Our project is
starting late because, since the unrest in March,
Tibetan areas of Sichuan are still considered sensitive by the
government. International aid has poured into other parts of
Sichuan, but relief efforts in Tibetan areas have been almost entirely
paid for by the government and other Chinese sources.
We will implement our program in Bawang Township, in a village called Little Bawang, which is located 9 km north-west to the county seat. In Little Bawang there are about 45 households with a total population of about 250.
The earthquake caused much loss of property in Little Bawang. Seven months after the disaster, some families are still living in tents. Seven homes are a total loss and must be demolished; these families will each receive a subsidy of 30,000 yuan (US$4,400) from the government. This amount is far from sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding.
The other 38 families homes were damaged to a lesser degree and the families therefore do not qualify for the government subsidy. Still, many of these houses will need extensive repairs.
The wealthier families in the village have already begun to repair and rebuild. Poor families in Bawang continue to live in tents or in unsafe houses, hoping that no aftershocks will come to collapse the heavy stone walls on top of them.
After discussion with our project partner in Danba, we decided to provide cash assistance to families that were badly affected by the quake but who did not qualify for a government subsidy. Trucking material goods directly to the villagers was the first plan considered by the director of Kham Aids disaster relief program, Wu Bangfu. But, after research, he recommended giving cash to the families because, when giving material goods, there is inevitably a misalignment between the type and quantity of goods supplied and peoples precise needs.
Selection of families to receive aid will be done jointly by Danba county officials and Kham Aid staff. Each family requesting aid will be asked to provide information about their economic situation, their urgent needs, and their plan for using the assistance funds.
In a community project like this, equitable distribution of aid is very tricky and can easily lead to conflict if it is perceived that some families received more than their fair share. Indeed, several villages declined our assistance because the headmen felt that the money would cause more problems than it would solve. Luckily, in Bawang, our partners are confident that they can work out a fair way of distributing the nearly $5,000 that has been contributed by Kham Aid donors.
Liu Dongqing, a student sponsored through Kham Aid Foundation who was studying in Chengdu, has written about the changes that she has undergone because of the earthquake. See her letter.