Prime Minister Salwai’s statement on the first anniversary of Cyclone Pam

Villagers from Happy Land, Erromango, carry high energy biscuits and supplies back to their homes after a delivery of humanitarian aid by Australian troops following Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Photo: ADF

The Vanuatu Government’s response to Cyclone Pam began immediately following the disaster and will continue for the next 18 months. The first phase of the response was the delivery of life-saving and humanitarian assistance, which is now complete. The second phase of the response is a two-year recovery and economic strengthening program which started in August 2015 and has accelerated. At the same time the government is also reviewing its disaster management policies and practices to ensure that it is well-prepared to respond to any future disasters.

Humanitarian phase

The Government responded promptly just after the cyclone with food and water and apart from that, Vanuatu also welcomed international assistance. The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) co-ordinated the assistance, supported by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA).

Vanuatu's new Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai.

By late April 2015, the NDMO and OCHA were able to report that:

  • All affected people had received emergency food distributions.
  • More than 21,000 people have received emergency supplies of safe drinking water, and over 26,000 people have benefited from the repair of water supply systems.
  • Almost 45,500 people have been reached with hygiene and sanitation distributions.
  • Some 67,500 people have received tarpaulin sheets, 55,000 were reached with tool kits to begin rebuilding their homes, almost 43,000 have received kitchen sets and another 92,500 were provided with blankets.
  • Medical teams had provided direct health assistance and treated almost 9,700 patients.
  • Emergency health kits provided enough emergency medications and supplies to reach 35,000 people with basic primary care, 30,000 people with secondary care and 30,000 women with emergency obstetrical care for three months.
  • 153 Temporary Learning Spaces had been established, allowing children to return to school.
  • Emergency telecommunications partners helped the government to restore internet access and damaged internal networks  communicate with the affected people in eight locations.

Some in the private sector also made generous contributions.

By July 2015, over Vt2.2 billion in assistance had been received, and that money not used straight away was then utilised to fund carry over programs while the recovery and economic strengthening program came online.

Recovery and economic strengthening phase

While the humanitarian response was in full swing, Government commenced planning to support recovery and economic strengthening. In July 2015, it announced a 2-year program of activities intended to deliver improved infrastructure and social services, and to promote the domestic private sector. The program is named ‘strengthening Ni-Vanuatu Resilience’ in recognition of the deep knowledge of our people and their resolve in times of adversity, which has sustained them in the past, helped them respond extraordinarily well to Pam and will ensure they cope well with future disasters. It also recognises that  Government can support people in difficult times, and is committed to doing that. Setting up a program like this takes time and effort, which is now paying off as the government can announce a number of new projects that are starting and also point to some more in the pipeline.

In the 100-day plan getting these projects underway is a key commitment, and delays in delivering assistance to people who need it are not acceptable. The PM has appointed a Parliamentary Secretary, MP Johnny Koanapo Rasou, to take responsibility to speed up the program to deal with the most needed areas or sectors severely affected.

Projects approved and underway are:

  • WASH Rehabilitation and Sector Strengthening (Vt187.3m, MFAT)
  • Tourism Recovery Marketing Campaign (Vt182.6m, DFAT/MFAT/GoV)
  • Health Sector Infrastructure and Equipment Recovery Program (Vt552.5m, DFAT)
  • Health Sector Recovery Program Management (Staff Supplementation) (Vt12.8m, DFAT)
  • Health Sector HAP-rollover Projects (Vt153.2m, various)

Projects approved and ready to commence are:

  • Curriculum Materials and equipment replacement (Vt137m, MFAT)
  • Restoration and refurbishment of Malvatumauri Chiefs Nakamal, Port Vila (Vt23.8m, various)
  • Road reconstruction (Vt2 billion, Asian Development Bank)
  • Schools reconstruction (Vt559m, Asian Development Bank)
  • Basket Blong Sapotem KomunitiKamap (BSK) 14 Small Projects (Vt49m, MFAT)

Further projects being developed and which the government expects to make announcements on soon are:

  • Recovery of Water Supply System
  • Water Sector Recovery Program Management (Staff Supplementation)
  • Reconstruction of Schools
  • Return to livelihoods and increased production opportunities (Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Biosecurity)
  • Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Bio-Security Sector Recovery Program Management (Staff Supplementation)
  • Tanna Tourism Recovery
  • Post-Pam Mini Census and Baseline Recovery Survey
  • Repair, rebuild and upgrade of Teouma Bridge, South Efate
  • SPC Recovery Project including various activities: Maritime and Aids to Navigation, Coordination of Domestic Water Supply Recovery, Strengthening Emergency Communications, Food Supply for Food Security (Fisheries & Agriculture), Support for Health Services, Relief Shipping Services to Outer Islands, Energy Supply to Remote Islands, Multi Hazard Mapping and Rebuilding production

Government continues to explore ways in which it can increase the amount of funds for the recovery, and is looking at lending options and engagement with potential donors.

On this occasion of the anniversary of cyclone Pam, and on behalf of the people of Vanuatu affected, Prime Minister Salwai thanks all donor partners (whether governments or international organizations), local organizations and companies, the people and all residents for their financial, material and moral support towards the rebuilding Vanuatu.

Prime Minister  Salwai appeals to all relevant ministries and line agencies to commit to delivering assistance to people and communities still in need. He said that further delays in the process of recovery and economic strengthening phase are not acceptable.