The 2018 Western Japan Floods: Situation Report #2

CWS Japan | July 17, 2018

Tsuda sharing her experience and thoughts for recovery. Photo: CWS

Tsuda and the elderlies receiving care. Photo: CWS

‘It is not a place, but a function where care provision for elderly with dementia is not interrupted’, said Tsuda from Budo-no-Ie (Grape House, a care house for elderlies in the area). As in the case of many areas in Japan, Mabi-cho in Okayama prefecture is facing with high elderly ratio in their population. As their care house was inundated by flood, now they are forced to provide their service in one of the communal hall.

Providing care for the elderlies, particularly with those with dementia, is a 24-hour work, and staff like Tsuda work day and night to ensure there is no further deterioration of vulnerabilities within elderlies in the area. ‘Providing too much material assistance will take away their power to recover’ said Tsuda, and that is why sleeping area in this communal hall is very simple. As the elderlies were used to sleeping on Futon (Japanese thin mattress), they prefer not to bring in beds at this time although the provision of care becomes much easier with beds. When thinking about the long path to recovery, they want to ensure to minimize the increase in vulnerability among the elderlies, and it is in such daily decision making that make them professional care providers. When asked what they need the most, they said additional staff to provide the care during the night shift is in dire need; and this is where professional volunteering can fill the gap. The staff are also affected population, and they need to rebuild their lives alongside of providing care for those in need. In addition, their care house needs to be rebuilt someday (but soon). Otherwise, the transition from the current emergency set-up will never take place. Even make-shift place is OK to kick-start such transition, as it is not the best building that is required in this community, but an existence of a function of care provision.

Mabi-cho has been a bed town for industrial park near the seaside in Kurashiki city as people can commute in 20-30 minutes by cat/train, and houses in Mabi-cho is cheaper than those in Kurashiki city. Younger generation has also moved to Mobi-cho for above reasons. During the recovery phase, however, some say that it is expected that many of such people will move to Kurashiki city and may not opt to return to Mabi-cho. When this scenario comes true, what would be the state of this town with ever greater elderly ratio and decreasing population?

The path to recovery is not easy for variety of reasons, but Tsuda also said ‘when this is all over, I want to be able to say, because this disaster happened, we became stronger together’. CWS Japan will continue to explore together with such residents how Build Back Better in Sendai Framework can be achieved in the affected areas of 2018 western Japan flood.

For more information, please contact Takeshi Komino, Country Representative, CWS Japan telephone: 03-5577-4538; email: t.komino@cwsjapan.org )

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