The Italy earthquake zone now marred with broken buildings and damaged roads is, in happier times, one of the world’s richest agricultural areas. But this rural economy is now in shock, and farmers need to stay on their farms even where homes are damaged. ShelterBox is in talks offering help
The Confederazione Italiana del Agricultura recognizes the hilly landscape shaken by massive quakes and tremors this week as one of the world’s showpieces for agriculture, food and wine.
Amatrice, its ancient buildings now mostly in ruins, is regarded as the seat of the Italian food agricultural industry, and is home to the ‘Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park’ where many unique species are protected.
While the focus has been on damage and casualties in towns and villages, there is widespread concern that farmers may have to leave their fields, vineyards and livestock unattended because they have nowhere to shelter since the quake.
International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been in talks today with the Confederazione Italiana del Agricultura about a solution. Once the Confederazione has examined the need across hundreds of smallholdings and farms, the door is open for ShelterBox to return to help farmers recover and rebuild.
ShelterBoxes – easily portable and ideal for delivery to inaccessible locations – may provide the ideal temporary solution. Each has a hardy tent for properties left without shelter in the forthcoming autumn and winter, solar lighting where power is down, and water filtration where pipes and sources have been damaged and drinking water has been compromised.
ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Jon Berg says, ‘At the moment we have found an over-provision of tented shelter in the quake zone, and much aid stock may well be sent back. ShelterBox does not yet have any inbound aid, but this conversation today with the Confederazione raises the possibility that ShelterBoxes may meet a very specific longer term need, helping Italian farmers and the rural economy to recover.’
The network of agricultural workers is mostly in remote settlements and on individual homesteads which have less access to assistance than village and town dwellers. At the moment it is reported that much of the displaced population are staying with friends, family, or in their cars parked in front of their homes – not only because of personal attachment, but to guard against looting of their possessions.
Also characteristic of this area is holiday home ownership by people who work and live in Rome for most of the year. ‘Agri-tourism’ properties are common here. The area is noted for its olive groves, grapes, even tobacco. Unique species of wild orchids are also found.
ShelterBox has had a team of three based in Rieti, and there is continuing support and contact with its Milan-based affiliate and with local Rotarians.
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