The Great East Japan Earthquake – support and outreach from Tono City and its residents

WHO Kobe Centre
Mr Toshiaki Honda
Mayor, City of Tono
Iwate Prefecture, Japan

The events of 11 March 2011 underline the importance of disaster preparedness and coordinated response, as well as attention to longer-term recovery. In these areas, WHO plays a key role providing strategic guidance to governments and cities.

A coordinated WHO response (WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, WHO Kobe Centre and WHO Headquarters) provided support to the communities affected and national and local authorities. But the first responders to any disaster are the communities themselves, and the response and experiences of the Japanese to the Great East Japan Earthquake provide inspiration and lessons for the rest of the world in coping with such disasters.

Tono City managed to avoid much of the devastation its neighbouring towns and cities experienced, and at a special seminar at the WHO Kobe Centre, its mayor, Mr Toshiaki Honda, described the city’s disaster preparedness strategy. He also showed how in the wake of the disaster, it was able to mobilise and coordinate an army volunteers to ensure urgently needed relief supplies were delivered to stricken areas.