Flea Market in Hyogo Prefecture/ peter-rabbit - Flickr Creative Commons

Helping disaster victims find something to live for

For disaster victims who had lost their homes and relationships with other persons due to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE), the Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) prepared a structure for disaster victims to have some “role” to live for. These projects include production/sales of hand-made items, various learning courses, and volunteer group formation support.

Case study

A structure to achieve creative reconstruction: Helping disaster victims find something to live for


Some disaster victims who left their local communities and lost their family members, friends, and homes lost the meaning to live due to the loss of various relationships. For the reconstruction of the disaster-affected area, it was necessary for the local government to revitalize the power and independence of disaster victims themselves.

Coping Strategy

By discovering one’s role through a relationship with other persons, a person can find something to live for. Bearing this in mind, Hyogo established a programme called the “Ikiiki (lively life) Workshop” comprised of courses about health, gardening, and handicrafts for a fulfilling life.

A set of courses were designed to gain knowledge and create friendships with other persons. Moreover, for the course participants, the “Ikiiki Network” is used for volunteer activity to utilize what they learned through the course. At the same time, the “Phoenix Relay Market (flea market event) was organized for the participants to display and sell handicraft.

For senior citizens, Hyogo also carried out a programme called the “Storytelling and Passing on Olden Days Playing Project” The project provided senior citizens with an opportunity to visit local primary schools and neighborhood children’s associations to pass on their disaster experiences and play games from olden days.

At the same time, Hyogo supported volunteer groups making and selling hand-made items that encouraged participants to find something to live for.

In a further step, Hyogo provided learning opportunities and launching costs for any citizen to start a “community business” (a small-sized programme intended to meet local community needs such as senior citizens’ life support and delivery services and the publication of community information booklet) that addressed local community problems while providing some income. Moreover, Hyogo set up the Work-to-Live-for Support Center to deliver support in the form of consultations, learning courses, job placement, and dispatching experts.


Many disaster victims participated in the above-mentioned programmes. For example, over 10,000 local residents completed the Ikiiki (lively life) Workshop while the Phoenix Relay Market was held on 83 occasions with attendance by 1,500 group exhibitors.

Measuring Success

These activities allowed disaster victims to regain something to live for while engaging in recovery efforts in a self-help manner, while serving as a major force for life recovery of the disaster-affected area.

Potential for replication

Because living standards differ from one country to another, it might be difficult to run the same programmes. It would require adapted programmes for each country. That said, it is important to create schemes to stimulate disaster victims’ motivation for post-disaster recovery efforts, since their proactive effort is essential to quick and preferable recovery in disaster-affected area.

Information of Contact Person

Mr. Masahiko Murata – Director, Research Department

Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI)

1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan

Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082

Mail: murata1@dri.ne.jp


Mr. Naoki Nakatsu

Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division,

Disaster Management & Planning Bureau,

Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department

5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan

Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914

Mail: naoki_nakatsu@pref.hyogo.lg.jp