Japan tsunami anniversary: how to help

Lili Ladaga

March 11, 2012 marks one year since a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami that slammed into the island nation, killing thousands of people.

More than 300,000 people are still homeless and around 3,300 others are unaccounted for, according to Reuters. The tsunami also sparked a nuclear reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, resulting in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Click image to see more before and after photos

The Red Cross has raised more than $4 billion so far, and cleanup and rebuilding continue, but much remains to be done. Below are organizations that are working on relief and recovery in the region.

American Red Cross: One year after the disaster, the American Red Cross has raised $312 million, and the vast majority of that money has already been used in Japan for relief and recovery operations. Red Cross response activities have transitioned from providing emergency medical care to helping reconstruct the health care infrastructure. Donations to the American Red Cross are helping to rebuild temporary and permanent hospitals, rebuild a Red Cross nursing school and strengthen Red Cross disaster response capacity. Donate here.

Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps continues to work with partner agencies, Peace Winds Japan and PlaNet Finance Japan, to help the Japanese people rebuild. Mercy Corps projects have brought much-needed assistance to four towns where 148,000 people live and are recovering from the disaster.  Specifically, the projects are helping  jump-start the local economies by working with fishermen, small business owners and local merchants. Donate here.

Habitat for Humanity International: Since March 2011, HFH Japan has been working with government and local non-governmental organization partners such as Peace Boat and All Hands Volunteers to send volunteers to earthquake-affected Iwate and Miyagi prefectures to help families rebuild their lives.  By the six-month anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, HFH Japan had mobilized more than 340 local volunteers to clean up nearly 390 homes and community buildings. Another 54 homes had been repaired. Donate here.

Architecture for Humanity: Architecture for Humanity is collaborating with local design and construction professionals to reconstruct the northern Japan region where the earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011.  A number of economic avenues were devastated by the tsunami. These financial lifelines are the engine that allows communities to become self-reliant. Architecture for Humanity is looking to help a number of local shops and businesses recover, open, create jobs, and collectively provide a financial future for affected communities. Donate here.