Current Situation and Issues of Shelters

Disaster Response

We cannot rely only on public assistance!

What roles does the administration play in a disaster?

Municipalities provide support for the establishment and operation of shelters. Prefectures adjust support personnel and procure equipment and equipment as necessary, and the government secure and transport supplies to the disaster-affected areas. In other words, it is a system in which prefectures and the government support municipalities. This is based on the idea that municipalities understand the region the best.

However, the local government staff members can be victims, because they burden of municipalities are heavy and, they may not be able to respond quickly. In addition, although municipalities open shelters, it is the evacuees themselves who operate shelters according to the Governmental Guidelines for The Management of Shelters. Disaster response is basically considered to be done by local governments, but it cannot be relied on only for public assistance.

Only men do disaster response!

Local governments establish a Disaster Response Headquarters in a disaster and respond to it. The Disaster Response Headquarters understand the damage situation, secure and distribute relief supplies and supporters, and determine the response policies.

Now, let's see the percentage of women who are members of the Disaster Response Headquarters. Of the 58 municipalities affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake, the ratio of men to women in disaster prevention in 37 municipalities which responded is shown in the graph below.

1-B: Sachiko Asano's Report on the Response to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake from the Viewpoint of Gender Equality
Referred to the above literature and created by ourselves.

As the graph 1-B shows, there are few women employees at the Disaster Response Headquarters, and less than one in each municipality on average. According to “the National Women's Participation Map,” of Cabinet Office for Gender Equality, the proportion of women in Kumamoto Prefecture's employees is 34%, so there are few women employees at the Disaster Response Headquarters.

People who respond after a disaster are almost men, and there is a lack of opportunities to incorporate women's opinions.

Volunteers do not necessarily come!

Today, it is common for the Social Welfare Councils to set up a disaster volunteer center to accept disaster volunteers. The Social Welfare Council has a network throughout Japan and is always in contact with volunteers through social welfare services.

The Social Welfare Council dispatches individual volunteers from all over the country in response to the needs of the victims and the government when there are individual requests.

However, because the Social Welfare Council itself also can have been affected by the disaster, it is not easy to dig up the changing needs of the disaster-stricken areas and match them with the many volunteers who gather. As a result, it may not be able to match the needs that suit the characteristics of the volunteers.

Furthermore, regardless of the impact and the size of the damage each local government has, it is apparently a huge gap of the numbers of volunteers it registers. Why is there bias in the number of volunteers?

There are two possible causes:

(1) In areas that are reported to the mass media, the damage situation is greatly highlighted, so volunteers are easy to concentrate.

(2) It is easy for volunteers to concentrate in areas with good transportation. There are many volunteers on weekends, while on weekdays it is difficult for volunteers to gather.