By: Zhang Wenqi
China Program Manager, Give2Asia
On April 23, NGO and government leaders gathered at Beijing Normal University to discuss the response to the earthquake that struck Sichuan Province on Saturday April 20. The forum’s main speaker was Ms. Guo Hong of Sichuan Academy of Social Science and an active grassroots NGO advisor. Ms. Hong discussed her personal experience during the recent disaster and her experience responding to the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008, which killed over 80,000 people.
Our Give2Asia team here in China attended the meeting, and with others discussed the focus for NGOs in the response effort, which will be on reconstruction and recovery more than emergency relief. The Chinese government has asked most NGOs to send emergency relief supplies to government-organized stations for distribution. The government is reporting that the need for emergency supplies has already been met and exceeded. As a result, distribution of supplies is now the government’s main priority. To help organize activities, currently no private cars are allowed to enter the affected areas without permission. The emergency relief phase is expected to last for three months.
In addition to the government’s emergency relief, 18 local NGOs have established a joint platform in the region to assist the government as well as to assess community reconstruction and recovery needs. Many of the collaborating organizations were started and incubated in response to the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008 and are now major forces in the region. Due to their experience in 2008, response from these organizations was exceptionally swift and placed a premium on information sharing and cooperative response.
Ms. Hong also emphasized the importance that new media such as Weibo and WeChat has played in sharing information and mobilizing resources with local NGOs.
The next meeting will be on April 28, 2013 in Chengdu.