In the Wake of Japan’s Triple Disaster: Rebuilding Capacity through International Collaboration


  • Eric Anthony Des Marais University of Denver
  • Subhasis Bhadra Gautaum Buddha University
  • Allen R. Dyer International Medical Corps



Japan, natural disaster, international collaboration, capacity building


Natural disasters occur when the destructive forces of natural events, such as earthquakes, flood, and volcanoes, overwhelm the capacities of communities. In the winter of 2011, Japan, a model for disaster-preparedness, was shaken by one of the largest earthquakes on record, a ten-story tsunami, and a nuclear emergency on par with Chernobyl. In the acute stages of the disaster, the Japanese government officially asked for help from a number of countries. During this time period, international collaboration played a key role in providing help to survivors in the form of medical assistance, food aid, and psychosocial support. As provision of aid evolved into capacity building, national and local Japanese government agencies, in partnership with local grassroots non-profits, assumed most responsibilities, and international organizations transitioned into new roles. This paper will present a study of the collaboration facilitated by a global non-profit humanitarian organization between international faculty and local partners in Japan.

Author Biographies

Eric Anthony Des Marais, University of Denver

Graduate School of Social Work Doctoral Student

Subhasis Bhadra, Gautaum Buddha University

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Assistant Professor

Allen R. Dyer, International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps, Senior Health Advisor