UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Tibaijuka, visited Genkai Island off Fukuoka to see at first-hand the damage wrought by an earthquake on 20 March this year and to take stock of reconstruction efforts.
Mr. Kazuyoshi Ito, Chairman of the Examination Committee for Reconstruction Measures of Genkai Island, briefed her on the current living conditions and community-based reconstruction planning. She commended the swift post-disaster reaction by local governments and the integrity of the community, which minimized the damage as a “best practice” worth replicating in other disaster zones of the world.
Mrs. Tibaijuka also commended reconstruction efforts conducted with community participation, and also visited two families living in the temporary housing for several months after the disaster.
UN-HABITAT has played an active role in rehabilitation following last December's Indian Ocean tsunami and the more recent earthquake in Northern Pakistan. Among such initiatives are the “Fukuoka Village Housing Project” in Sri Lanka, which is making steady progress thanks to over US$ 400,000 raised in donations from citizens in Fukuoka and Kyushu. The money is also being used for similar projects in Nias, Indonesia, and the Maldives. Mrs. Tibaijuka said the solidarity shown by Fukuoka and Kyushu was a good example of how the international community should work.
Mrs. Tibaijuka visited Pakistan afterwards to attend an earthquake reconstruction meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said she would convey what she had learned in Genkai to Mr. Annan. UN-HABITAT is proposing reconstruction plans with community participation to provide for quake resilient shelter.
Mrs. Tibaijuka visited Japan from 13 through 16 November. She met with various national and local partners including Hon. Taku Yamasaki, Chairman of Japan Parliamentarians on Habitat; Hon. Naokazu Takemoto, Secretary-General of Japan Parliamentarians on Habitat; Hon. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Yukiyoshi Minehisa, Vice Minister for Land and Infrastructure, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Mr. Wataru Aso, Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture; Mr. Hirotaro Yamasaki, Mayor of Fukuoka City; and Mr. Tatsuo Kawai, Chairman of the Cooperating Committee of Habitat Fukuoka Office.