About CFW

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About Cash for Work-Japan

Employment in disaster areas; hope for those affected

Founder, CFW-Japan, Shingo Nagamatsu
(Associate Professor, Kansai University Department of Safety Science)

Cash for Work (CFW) is a method to support the effective recovery of disaster-hit areas by employing and paying wages to disaster-affected individuals who participate in disaster recovery projects.

CFW has been effectively implemented as a means of supporting disaster recovery and economic redevelopment in 2004 in Indonesia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, in 2008 after the Myanmar (Burma) cyclone, and in 2010 in Haiti after the earthquake. Even in Japan there was an example of CFW long ago. In Hiromura town in Wakayama Prefecture, Goryou Hamaguchi used his own funds and hired affected individuals to build an immense sea wall after the 1854 Ansei Nankai Earthquake. Since this project employed disaster-affected individuals, it is considered a type of CFW.

As Japan’s economy has developed and become more complex, disaster response has become more advanced and specialized, somehow forgetting ideas such as these in the process. However, the major earthquake in eastern Japan on 11 March 2011 caused a tsunami which devastated the Tohoku region and almost all economic activity, including basic utilities, has come to a halt. When it comes to a disaster on such an enormous scale, it is believed that even basic tasks of the recovery, such as rebuilding infrastructure and homes, will take a long time and that economic activity will similarly take time to recover.

Since Japan exited its high-growth period and entered the period of long-term stagnation in the 1990s, post-disaster economic recovery has become a major issue for our country.

Between forty thousand and hundred thousand individuals lost their jobs as a result of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Amid the effect of the economic slump of the Heisei period, regional economic recovery was extremely difficult. At the time, incidences of kodokushi (in which individuals died as a result of nobody being around to ask for help; death by isolation) in temporary shelters became a major problem. Many of those who perished were middle-aged men who had lost their jobs and, as a result, had lost their primary connection with society.

If economic activities remain halted for a long time, such tragedies will repeat themselves.

To address this problem and accelerate the economic recovery of the disaster-hit region, I have advocated the implementation of CFW schemes through Twitter and my blog, “Essays on Disaster Reduction.” Many people have expressed their support and a discussion network has been formed to exchange idea to put CFW into practice. We have named this network CFW-Japan.

While CFW has a track record in developing countries, there are no recent examples in our country. Due to this fact, the discussion has primarily centered on what points to consider in successfully implementing CFW in our country. The debate seems to be moving toward the notion that in developing countries, CFW’s main goal is poverty reduction, but in our country, CFW’s goal should be more toward generating commitment to recovery and giving people a sense of purpose. Furthermore, given the large number employed in the tertiary sector, CFW implementation should not be limited to public works or construction, but should also include government services such as support services for affected individuals and disaster response support work.

Finally, the main implementers of CFW in developing countries have been large NGO’s, but in our country, there are a large number of relatively small-scale NPO’s. Given this difference, there was a proposal to establish a common portal through which CFW implementation can be coordinated.

Based on such debate, I am aggregating and presenting tentative plans for CFW-Japan here.

Please note, however, that because of the evolving nature of CFW-Japan, not all members necessarily agree with the details of this plan. In truth, there are many details and implementation methods that have not yet been fully considered.

There are already many NPO’s and volunteer organizations that are implementing practices similar to CFW. We hope that, going forward, such ideas will also be considered seriously by the government. In the meantime, we are proposing ideas that could form the core of such a discussion and gathering a wide range of opinions. By doing this, we believe that we can contribute to a speedy decision-making process that will result in a plan that will truly help disaster-affected individuals.

Please, everyone, contribute your ideas and resources.

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