RESPONDING TO DISASTER
Responding to Disaster
By Peggy Bradley
On May 12, 2008 a very strong earthquake rocked the Chinese province of Sichuan. The earthquake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, centered along a fault line running through Sichuan, directly affected over 600,000 inhabitants.
Since 2003, the Institute for Simplified Hydroponics has been involved in a project in Sichuan. This project has included research, investigation and a paper on hydroponics and Yak production. For the past three years ISH has supported a mission to the University and collaboration efforts with Heifer International.
Heifer International distributes farm animals to help alleviate poverty. The areas of need are with hydroponic forage in areas where there is eroded lands or reduced forage. In
Sichuan area this is important for yak producers, and they especially need help in winter.
As the earthquake damage became apparent, the University of Sichuan asked Raanan Katzir and Peggy Bradley, who were scheduled to run an educational seminar in October to arrive early and conduct a new seminar in mid July to help the people of Sichuan who were affected by the earthquake.
The quake left 70,000 people dead and approximately 4.8 million homeless. The province had much of its housing in the form of rocks and mortar, and this type of construction did not withstand the deadly quake. The state of Sichuan will have years of reconstruction to build up what was lost and damaged.
ISH will be involved in this reconstruction effort, setting up regional training in simplified hydroponic gardens and setting up training for microfarms.
China has a long history of rural sustainable agriculture so ISH offers only a small amount of help in modernizing some aspects of the local traditions. Introducing small-scale gardens of plants grown on tables or raised beds is a method to help people begin producing their own food.
Katzir and Bradley are scheduled to produce a recommendation report for the University of Sichuan sometime in late July or early August.
Bradley designed a homeless shelter in 1999 after the Armenia Colombia earthquake, which left 60,000 homeless.
Many of the ideas for the shelter were used in earthquake reconstruction. That shelter will again be proposed for the homeless families in Sichuan.
The shelter is based on a single sheet of plastic, which is provided to families who have lost their homes. If that piece of plastic is clear rather than black, it could be used for a home and a startup greenhouse for growing some food.
The shelter has four exterior patio spaces devoted to an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor bathing area with toilet, a front door patio and a rear bedroom patio. The entire space can be used to help grow plants in difficult growing conditions as well as shelter the family.
The shelter also serves as a rainwater harvesting space providing some clean water for the family.
In Sichuan, because Peggy and Raanan are asked to provide ideas, the shelter will again be proposed to those involved in reconstruction.
The group of 4.5 million people now homeless from the earthquake is one of the largest homeless populations in history representing over one million families. The first step towards reconstruction will be finding temporary housing. The Armenia Shelter is a possibility.
At this point, the situation is more complicated as many people have been evacuated or traveled into the cities to try to receive help. With over 300,000 injured, there are many who cannot begin rebuilding right away.
So, with the daunting tasks ahead, at least simplified hydroponics and fertigation are being considered.
Article Courtesy Maximum Yield Publications Inc.
Bradley, Peggy, “Responding to Disaster: Hydro for Hunger Update”, Maximum Yield’s Industry News, July 2008, pg 40.