Two years on… Still assisting the people of Yushu after the quake

As we move through 2012, and toward the third winter since the earthquake, the progress made in Yushu is in many respects significant (a whole town has been, or is being, rebuilt); yet in some other ways, progess also remains quite challenging especially for those who do not yet have new land/homes assigned or built…

Plateau Perspectives’ on-going, longer-term response to the earthquake has been in two main areas: (1) post-earthquake livelihood recovery, through development of Community Ecotourism; and (2) development of Rehabilitation Services in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in cooperation with the Disabilities Association.

Newsletter and annual reports, providing more detail about this work, can be downloaded from Plateau Perspectives’ website. Additional insights into our work can also be found in the “What We Do” section of Plateau Perspectives’ website; different sub-sections of our relaunched site also outline interventions in Income Generation, Community Ecotourism, Health & Rehabilitation, Disaster Relief, etc.

In support of the development of Community Ecotourism, a new site with a focus on community projects has been launched in the past year, Financial support for this work comes in large part from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) by way of partner organizations in Norway, with additional support from Ford Foundation for the trial development of herders’ cooperatives and trust funds. Collaboration with nature reserve authorities also continues, as large areas of the prefecture are situated within ‘protected areas’ – and the development of a community co-management approach to conservation can help local communities better participate in conservation initiatives as well as achieve socio-economic development aspirations through community ecotourism and other means.

Our project to support the development of Rehabilitation Services in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture – begun in Longbao/Rongbo and also in Zhiduo/Dritoe – still needs further financial support.

Please consider supporting our work, in aid of the people of Yushu. Donated funds will be used to support the development of Rehabilitation Services in the Yushu area, or as requested (e.g., to support community development, or other affiliated programmes). Thank you for your generosity!


Relief Update as of November 15, 2010

Over the summer months, Plateau Perspectives worked with many of its local partners to determine the most strategic role that it can play in the mid- and long-term recovery of Yushu, following the earthquake that devastated the region on 14 April 2010. The following three-prong approach, or strategy, was adopted:
(1) We are still responding to short-term (immediate) relief needs as they arise, whether this be follow-up medical care for patients, or provision of materials supplies;
(2) With regard to community-based medical care, our main priority is now on the rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities incurred due to the earthquake, as well as a general upgrading of rehabilitation services in the project area; and
(3) We also support the recovery of local livelihoods in the area, with a special emphasis on building the capacity of local communities to participate in new tourism opportunities in the prefecture (note: the government has designated the Yushu area as a new tourism destination, and is rebuilding the regional economy accordingly).

Specifically, since our last update, we have distributed the following emergency relief supplies in Yushu: more than 50 medium-size tents (each for 6-8 people), 700 solar powered dLights, 50 other solar powered lights, 5 large boxes of FedEx clothing, 400 thermals for children, 100 pressure cookers, 400 pairs of socks for children, 100 cell phone rechargers; 150 wheelchairs and 50 crutches; winter coats, shoes, hats, gloves, and thermals for 1,521 school children (with assistance from several local partners).

This week, we also are preparing further relief assistance, including winter coats, hats, thermals, and blankets for an additional 420 school children; winter coats, shoes, and blankets for 1,000 people (with the Civil Affairs Bureau); 100 solar powered lights, 50 wheelchairs, and 20 crutches (with the Disabilities Association).

Project agreements are in place for us to continue the above work in the months ahead. We are now working in cooperation with the Disabilities Association, and we are also in dialogue with the Tourism Bureau to promote more community-oriented tourism in the future. At the same time, with support from the prefecture government, we will of course also continue to respond to relief needs as we learn of them, especially now as people must face their first post-earthquake winter. The times ahead are still difficult, and your help is still very much appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your continued support, in aid of the people of Yushu.

relief update

Relief Updates as of 1:19am local time on 4/26

On Saturday evening, all of the medical relief camps under the direction and supervision of the prefecture health bureau — including our camp, which had operated for nearly 10 days — were requested to bring their operations to an end, as the provision of medical care for residents of Yushu was to be transitioned over to the government’s field hospitals, under the coordination of a representative from the national health bureau.

This therefore brings to a close the initial, short-term, ‘Phase One’ of Plateau Perspectives’ response to the devastating earthquake that hit Yushu on April 14, 2010. However much more will need to be done in the weeks and months ahead; and so from our perspectives, we now are simply moving into a next phase of work — including such matters as water purification, distribution of relief supplies, and other support for local partners (including both government bureaus and specific communities) that have been significantly affected by the earthquake.

Already, two water purification systems have been installed in one of the largest displaced person camps on the outskirts of Yushu, each with a proven capacity to provide potable water for over 2,500 people; and a request has been made for 30 water purification units in total, to be set up at 19 different locations throughout the town. Further afield, even remote counties, townships and villages in Yushu prefecture are affected by the earthquake, due to the breakdown in the normal medical referral system. Therefore, many herding communities that we have worked with in the past — some for more than a decade — also are likely to require additional support in the months ahead. A more detailed needs assessment, including health and other areas of social service, will be carried out in the near future.


Relief Updates as of 1:35am local time on 4/23

Yesterday we awoke to two inches of snow on the ground in Xining.  Today was Yushu’s turn with snow falling for much of the morning. Our medical camp staff made the most of it and jokingly surprised the Xining staffers with this homemade sign reading “Merry Christmas from Yushu April 22, 2010!”.  While most locations in North America are experiencing spring-like conditions, the Tibetan plateau’s weather during this time of year can be very temperamental.  Nonetheless, we were all happy to see the medical team in good spirits.

Relief operations have been running very smoothly at our Yushu medical camp.  Patients continued to file through and the doctors on site are averaging close to 150-200 patients per day.  The medical camp staff are approaching treatment of nearly 1,000 patients during our time in Yushu.  We remain excited to see that our water filtering systems continue to provide fresh drinking water for the people of Yushu.  Needless to say we are thrilled with this initial relief response in Yushu and are making preparations to move into new phases of sustainable medical relief work in Yushu.

Relief Update – One week after

Relief Updates as of 1:05am local time on 4/22

This morning we awoke to two inches of snow on the ground in Xining and more falling fast. It was cold and breezy at 10 AM when sirens rang out through the city marking a nationwide moment of remembrance for the victims of the earthquake. As the temperature dropped we worried that conditions in Yushu may be deteriorating, but were relieved to hear from the field that the weather there was clear.

At the medical camp, patients continued to file through, latrines were improved under direction from local health officials, and clean drinking water was made publicly available at a tap from our treatment system thus making our camp a valuable source of fresh water in Yushu. Medical transport personnel continued to carry patients to the airport for evacuation and to the camp for treatment.

It has now been one week since the Yushu earthquake, and the government medical response coordinators have thanked Plateau Perspectives for our generous contributions. We are well received by officials, police, and the people of Yushu, and are on the Health Bureau’s official register of relief camps. The Center for Disease Control inspected our camp today and were pleased with our setup, waste disposal, and cleanliness of the camp. Although there are domestic organizations aiding the relief effort, we are still the only officially recognized international NGO performing relief work in Yushu.

Tonight at about 7PM, we sent three more doctors and medical supplies through official channels to the quake zone. They should arrive early to mid morning on Thursday and will work either in our medical camp or elsewhere in the city, according to the needs as determined on the field.

Relief Update + Pictures

Relief Updates as of 1:18am local time on 4/21

Our supply truck arrived mid-morning today with fresh food and medicines. The tents were soon set up, the generators were humming, and water was being filtered and treated for drinking. Medical personnel continued to see patients throughout the day despite a short storm of hail, snow, and rain. Beyond the routine trips, one medical transport driver reported being able to take two little girls to the airport for evacuation to the city where their parents are hospitalized.

Some doctors from team 2 needed to depart for Xining this morning to catch return flights home. They traveled over icy roads through driving snow for much of the 500 mile journey, but arrived safely in Xining before 9 PM local time. Additional medical personnel are now in Xining and are expected to travel to Yushu over the next few days.

Check after the jump for pictures

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Relief Update

Relief Updates as of 12:38am local time on 4/20

Team 3 arrived in the Yushu area at approximately 10:30 PM on Sunday. They spent the night on the outskirts of town about a mile from our medical camp, then rendezvoused with the larger team early this morning. In addition to the supplies that they brought, another truck carrying medicines for our group also delivered six boxes this morning. There are many children coming through the camp with their parents, and often several just milling about, so some toys and distractions for the kids were also among the packages sent.

While the medical team in Yushu continued to see patients throughout the day, our team in Xining was purchasing 7 to 10 days worth of medications, medical supplies, food, and water for the camp. These were loaded onto a truck along with two high-capacity water purification systems, two generators, and three large medical tents. Team 4 (consisting of two water experts, two drivers, and one cook for the camp) departed with the supplies in the late afternoon and should arrive in Yushu tomorrow mid-day.

Relief Update

Relief Updates as of 10:20pm local time on 4/18

We were able to get our third team on the road to Yushu this morning at 7:15am. Among the team were two doctors, three nurses, two logistics personnel, and two Yushu-born translators. The team should be arriving this evening around 10pm local time.

Reports from teams already in Yushu indicate that the death toll will certainly continue to rise. Today overall our medical teams treated less acute wounds while seeing an increase in more general illnesses. The team was able to treat close to 140 patients with varying symptoms including stomach illness, dehydration, and high blood pressure. A few patients were delivered to the airport for medical evacuation.

Our team members all reported stand-still traffic throughout Yushu due to increased rescue efforts and increased media coverage as well as a visit from the Chinese President, Hu Jintao. One team member let us know that the streets were lined with semi trucks filled with relief supplies, front end loaders, as well as a few industrial cranes which all added to the significant delays- but will undoubtedly aid the overall effort. Our team en route to Yushu saw very few cars leaving the city and heading for the provincial capital of Xining due to the significant delays in Yushu.

In Xining, our staff continued organizing logistics for teams that will be heading out around the middle of this week. We plan to send a large truck down tomorrow to deliver much needed supplies such as mass water purification solutions, tents, medicine, food, and power generators. Our next team to depart will likely consist of additional doctors and nurses from throughout China.

Plateau Perspectives and Yushu Earthquake Relief continue to find favor with the regional government, the Yushu government, and the Health Bureau in order to continue in the relief efforts. The Health Bureau generously provided us with another medical tent which increased our ability to treat patients. We continue to be thankful for the privilege to help relief efforts in Yushu.


Around 6:00 a.m. our convoy of two teams pulled into Yushu.  Immediately jumping into action, they assessed the current needs and transformed their vehicles into makeshift ambulances used to transport the injured into areas where they could receive aid.
Over the course of the day, these two teams were able to treat more than 200 people and transfer the more seriously injured to medical checkpoints.  Tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. we will send another two teams of medical personnel from Xining into the earthquake zone, along with much needed local Kham Tibetan translators.

In general, we were able to observe the following while on the field:

  • Aside from generators, no electricity is available.
  • The military has been able to set up a “mobile hospital” with standard hospital equipment.
  • The military and Heath Department are still eager to have our teams help their Peoples relief efforts.
  • There is a serious need for food and clean water.
  • Front end loaders are still clearing the streets of debris.
  • Survivors are still being rescued from the rubble.

Relief Update 4/17 1:20am local time

Initial Teams work a full day. 2 More teams arriving tomorrow

Today we are happy to report that over 15 workers were sent into the area as of 5pm local time this evening.  We sent off another group of 15 this evening which will be arriving mid morning Saturday, April 17th local time.  All in all we have been able to send many highly trained health professionals into the regions as well as skilled surgeons.  We are happy to report that their are 6 logistics coordinators in the area as well.  Logistics coordinators help drive the doctors into the areas so that they are fresh once they arrive.  These coordinators also manage getting base of operations set up, keeping them running, and transporting patients and medical supplies to our bases of operation.

Teams will be arriving early tomorrow morning as well as later in the afternoon.

For a more detailed report, please click here

Yushu Earthquake Relief