The Legacy of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

According to The Japan Times, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake made 300,000 people homeless after it struck on January 17 in 1995. It also resulted in 6,434 lost lives, destroyed 200,000 buildings and resulted in an economic cost of about $100 billion.

The impact of the earthquake is best described in this excerpt from the article:

“As for all disasters, the human toll, including the psycho-social impact on survivors, is the greatest tragedy. It reminded us of the constant need for communities, cities, and nations to enhance prevention and preparedness, to ensure that response systems are efficient, and that communities build their resilience to withstand and cope with any future disaster.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake ushered in a new era of volunteerism in Japan, and highlighted many lessons on how to prepare for disasters arising from hazards of all kinds, improve care and support for the survivors, as well as to rebuild cities and their health systems. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and so many other natural disasters in the past two decades across the world, illustrated the need to continuously apply past lessons.

The number of people affected by emergencies and disasters continues to increase year after year, with climate change further exacerbating the frequency and magnitude of climate-related hazards. Underlying all efforts is the need to reinforce the role of communities, for which lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake are being transmitted through the concept of ‘kizuna’ (human bonds).”

Key preparedness points the article highlights:

  • Investing in health systems
  • Focus on vulnerable populations to develop social mobilization strategies

The earthquake and the Japanese people’s determination to “build back better” led to the creation of the WHO’s Kobe Center and eventually the Hyogo Framework for Action.

That framework will be discussed at the upcoming World Conference on Disaster Reduction in March in Sendai.


For more information, see the original article here: