Lessons Learned

Over decades, AMDA has worked extensively in disaster relief around the world, some of which include emergency cases in Japan such as the Hanshin Great Earthquake (1995), the Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake (2004) and the East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami (2011).
Most of AMDA’s relief activities take place in the midst of confusion right after the disaster strikes. While none of the victims had expected to become victims themselves, they would have to endure a tough evacuation life under immense mental and physical pressure, despair and exhaustion.
Meanwhile, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that municipal disaster-headquarters are afflicted as well. Local medical institutions are no exception in that they are forced to work under difficult circumstances.
Successfully coordinating a coherent disaster response can be a great feat as types of disasters vary each time. Despite the fact that procedure manuals have been developed for disaster assistance, it is safe to say that they are not applicable to all cases.
Likewise, it is confusing on the donor’s end as well. As there are no rules for providing assistance, it is often the case that a mismatch in supply and demand occurs. Unfortunately, there have been reports of fraud cases where con men pretend to act willfully over good deeds. Hence, municipal governments and medical institutions have been increasingly cautious when receiving assistance.

Turning Past Issues into Future Hope

At the time of Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, AMDA launched medical relief on the very day the disaster struck. For the next 40 consecutive days, AMDA persistently sent medical personnel and relief goods to help the victims. The focus of the relief effort was shifted to post-disaster rehabilitation after the emergency phase was over. Ever since, relevant projects have been conducted by local affiliates. It was during this period of time in which AMDA had to overcome various obstacles, namely difficulty in information gathering and relief goods procurement, as well as bad access to disaster sites. Through these experiences, AMDA learned to cope with predicaments that may arise at the occurrence of calamities.

Preparedness is What Counts

Japan is indeed a quake-prone country. In recent years, the Japanese government has been warning its citizen to be cautious of potential catastrophes such as the likes of the Nankai Trough Earthquake, the Tokai Earthquake and a massive quake which is expected to directly hit the greater Tokyo area. All of these may occur within the next 30 years, and thus, regional authorities have been trying to prepare for such unseen crises by securing food stocks and creating counter-disaster maps.

As a culmination of many years of experience in disaster relief, AMDA launched its platform called “AMDA Platform for Nankai Trough Earthquake Disaster Strategy” in 2014. While some natural calamities are unavoidable, AMDA believes that it is possible to make a significant difference if enough preparation is made beforehand. Preparation is not just about stocking up relief supplies or securing evacuation shelters. It is also about building a humanitarian network with concerned parties and strategizing the logistics. Both are intangible yet crucial in tackling every disaster that is yet to take place.

AMDA is always giving its utmost effort to care for the physical and emotional well-being of disaster victims. The platform, utilizing the wisdom and expertise gained from past experiences, has been put in place to create a better future for those who were once battered by misfortunes. This is exactly what prompted AMDA to start this project.