NASA analysis shows more than 624mm of rain fell on northern islands during Cyclone Donna

The video above from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shows rainfall during Cyclone Donna as it crossed northern Vanuatu between May 2 and May 10. Extreme rainfall exceeding 624mm is shown in purple. Aerial reconnaissance has revealed damage to villages, buildings and crops in the Torres and Banks islands from cyclonic winds, extreme rainfall and storm surges.

At last: the agreement to start the Bauerfield runway works has been signed by CCECC and another Chinese construction group (Northwest Civil Airport Construction Group). The signing of the agreement yesterday is regarded as a milestone — by the companies, ministers of state present and press. Let’s get going.

Airports Vanuatu Limited has acknowledged that there are competing claims to the land intended for the scheduled improvements to Bauerfield Airport runways. This project is scheduled for an early start. AVL Chairman Bakoa Kaltongga lists the leases concerned and their history. There are two rural leases as well as the original urban lease granted to AVL by the government. Custom land owner groups have been paid all rents due from 2014 and each year an amount of Vt 1.7 million is paid to each of the four groups of custom owners. Kaltongga says this makes it impossible to entertain any new claims relating to Bauerfield runways. (Daily Post)

In other transport news, Australia is continuing its support for improving rural roads. A further A$4 million (Vt 326 million) has just been made available by High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin to the Minister for Public Works. The Vanuatu Government’s policy is to ensure that by 2030, 80% of the rural population will have access by road to their nearest commercial hub in all but extremely bad weather. High Commissioner Da Rin said “Australia is investing in the improvement of of the rural roads network to ensure Ni-Vanuatu can access basic services and to support Vanuatu’s economy.” (Daily Post)

Vanuatu Tradewinds Limited has announced a expanded investment in manioc production. Market demand around the world for manioc or cassava has increased greatly owing to its gluten free properties. It is certainly a substitute for wheaten flour for cakes, pasta and bread. Managing Director Simon Agius has been conducting trials on Epi and Teouma and is pleased with the results achieved. (Daily Post)

Something Vanuatu has sorely lacked for a long time is national quality standards for exports and imports. Good news: the Act for a Bureau of Standards has been gazetted and should be implemented shortly. We are, after all, WTO members and internationally WTO technical barriers to trade and other rules apply. Labelling standards are also required. The Bureau should assist, for example our kava-as-a-drink exports, and also Vanuatu Tradewinds’ manioc exports. Let’s hope so. The lack of such a bureau failed our former corned beef exports.