Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 31 March 2015

Cyclone Pam rehabilitation has been proceeding in various ways.

Kumala planting material has been made available to people in Torba, 3,000 cuttings having been delivered to the Department of Agriculture as a project of the Milai company. A further 10,000 cuttings have been made ready for Tafea.

Small drone aircraft of the SPC have been flying over south-east Efate villages to assess cyclone damage. People were urged to respect the work of the drones in photographing the areas over which they fly. It is assisting collection of relevant data.

The Auki, a Solomon islands patrol vessel, has been delivering relief supplies to Erromango people. It has also assisted Erromango people in the capital to send parcels to families on the island. Prime Minister Natuman has spoken of the need to possibly reconsider protection of Erromango forests, their being a likely source of income for the people there.

Unelco says over 90% of its customers now have restored electricity. Repairs have cost over VT 200 million so far. Necessary equipment has been shipped to Tanna for the major restoration work of the network there.

Director of Tourism George Borugu has advised Radio Vanuatu that at least 4 more weeks of clean-up will be needed before cruise ships can return to Port Vila and permit a resumption of normal tour activities. Ships’ visits are, however, still possible to Santo. Air Vanuatu overseas flights are being reduced.

New Zealand has generously allowed to waive visa fees for workers wishing to return to New Zealand for regional seasonal work as a means of assisting income generation in their families. Over 2,000 workers are presently there with 800 preparing to go.

People at Beverley Hills are being advised to boil their water. Teoumaville water has also been declared unsafe by the Department of Health.

Members of the Fiji military have been assisting relief missions in Tanna and New Zealand soldiers in Epi and the Shepherds.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest | UN Humanitarian Coordinator’s observations

VANUATU: HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR WARNS OF SECONDARY EMERGENCY

Port Vila, Vanuatu (30 March 2015) – Tropical Cyclone Pam swept through the archipelago of Vanuatu on 13 March 2015, wiping out homes and infrastructure, destroying the electricity network and razing crops in the mainly agricultural country. The Humanitarian Coordinator for Vanuatu, Ms Osnat Lubrani, visited Tafea Province on Saturday to see the effect of the cyclone on a vulnerable population.

“It is heart breaking to see the extraordinary scale of devastation,” said Ms Lubrani. Tafea was one of the most severely affected provinces when Tropical Cyclone Pam made landfall two weeks ago.

“While we can already see the positive impact of the Government-led emergency relief operation, we still need to scale up efforts to ensure all islands are provided with food, water, shelter and medical care,” Ms. Lubrani said. “The emergency is not over yet.”

Referring to the strength of the people of Vanuatu Ms. Lubrani continued, “At the same time I am also impressed by the resilience of the people who are already beginning to rebuild their lives with the help of local authorities and the international community.”

Ms. Lubrani warned that a secondary emergency could hit Vanuatu. The cyclone destroyed more than 90 per cent of crops, leaving a population that heavily relies on subsistence agriculture without a source of income and the possibility of long-term food insecurity. “One of the women I met told me that they are in urgent need of income, having nothing to sell on the local market and no money to even buy soap,” Ms. Lubrani said.

Ms. Lubrani met with provincial authorities, assessed damage to local infrastructure and visited one of the relief distribution sites. “We will continue to stand by the side of the people of Vanuatu and I call on the international community to support our work on the ground,” Ms. Lubrani said. The United Nations and partner non-governmental organizations have started to provide families with seed kits to ensure long-term food security, and will support the government in restoring community infrastructure and reviving economic activities.

The United Nations is seeking US$29.9 million to cover the needs of 166,000 cyclone-affected people for three months. To date US$6.4 million has been pledged since the launch of the Flash Appeal on 24 March but more support is required.

Two weeks after Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu the humanitarian response reached all 22 storm-affected islands of the country, despite significant logistical challenges due to the geographic spread of the archipelago.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest 30 March 2015

The craven utterances of the Leader of the Opposition in Saturday’s press, as numerous volunteers were trying to return Vanuatu to normalcy, are rejected outright by Prime Minister Natuman today. PM Natuman, in Daily Post, spoke of his government’s requirement to offer moral support and comfort to the many as the work of rehabilitation goes on. He also observed that politicians have caused more relief coordination problems than good and promised he would do his best to ensure the Director of the National Disaster Committee and the NDMO coordinate their efforts with the international partners. Government sources also revealed a "right hand MP of the Opposition Leader" trying to hijack certain relief efforts on Tanna.

63 residents of Mataso, especially school children with parents in Port Vila, and the elderly and disabled, arrived in the capital Saturday night, on the Solomons patrol boat assisting the aid effort, the Auki. Two people died on the island with the passage of cyclone Pam.

A second Chinese cargo place carrying tents, tarpaulins and food was welcomed in the capital late last week by the Chinese Ambassador and Climate Change Minister Bule. More generosity from China is expected in the coming days with the arrival of rice and generators.

RVS Tukoro personnel, their ship driven ashore on Saturday night at Moso, are reporting directly on the matter to the Acting Commissioner of Police, Job Esau. The Commissioner said he was pleased at the way in which the 17-man crew put the vessel ashore where it was safe, with no lives lost.

Students of USP Emalus campus have played a part in getting education rehabilitated in Mlampa. They raised money to help the provincial education officer in the disaster zones.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 29 March 2015

The Vanuatu Opposition Leader heads today’s Daily Post news with a hate message towards the Prime Minister for not taking Shepherds elected MPs on his flight to their smashed constituency islands. With shipping having been in to the Shepherds since shortly after the cyclone one can only wonder what the people’s representatives referred to were still doing in the capital. And why they were not in their communities anyway. Is it no longer required to be a resident of a community in order to be elected by it?

Carcasses continues to abuse the National Disaster Management Office concerning management of aid supplies. "There are no guarantees that any shipment will be received by to whom it is being consigned." He also uncharitably and without evidence understands "a lot of relief was sent to Tafea through Tanna," which would be quite normal anyway. He hopes it will not only be distributed to Natuman and VP supporters.

The generosity of the world continues to amaze and extends beyond the Australia, New Zealand and France, FRANZ partners in so much on-going development assistance to Vanuatu. The Honiara based British High Commissioner, representing one element of the former colonial duopoly announced a British aid package worth VT 300 million, three RAF flights bringing in relief supplies. Britain is also distributing through Care, World Vision, Oxfam, Save the Children and Map Action.

The papers for the last couple of days continue with relief stories. HMNZS Canterbury was dealing with relief to Epi and the Shepherds, support vessels assisting. The Asian Development Bank’s $1 million grant, as part of a broader $5 million assistance package, appropriately got bid headlines.It is to be hoped this deals with any lingering resentments people feel in Vanuatu concerning the Comprehensive Reform Programme at the end of the ‘Nineties. The Vanuatu Reserve Bank board has also provided VT 40 million "to help rebuild the nation". Governor Athy commented on the VNPF (Provident Fund) release of 20% of members’ savings, pointing out how they can affect the financial sector’s liquidity profile and domestic interest rates. The United States is giving $1.4 million to assist both the Solomons and Vanuatu through the World Food Programme and Food For Peace, for immediate food security needs. Today’s paper explains France targeting especially North Tanna and Erromango and doing it with emergency response teams from New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

The Red Cross is hugely assisting relief efforts. Ten thousand people have been reached in 13 islands. CEO Jacqueline De Gaillande observed that "in the wake of the cyclone, communities immediately rallied together to clean up and begin rebuilding. The Red Cross is supporting some of the worst hit communities by providing urgently needed shelter materials, essential household items and clean drinking water… The logistics of delivering aid to an affected population across 22 islands is incredibly challenging." Indeed it is. But in Vanuatu it is happening. Red Cross is helping mightily, but above all communities are working together as CEO De Gaillande has observed.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest | ADB mightily assists cyclone ravaged Vanuatu

ADB PROVIDES $1 MILLION GRANT AS PART OF ASSISTANCE PACKAGE FOR VANUATU

PORT VILA, VANUATU (25 March 2015) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $1 million emergency grant, as part of a broader $5 million assistance package to the Government of Vanuatu in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The Category 5 cyclone tore through the archipelago on the evening of 13 March, 2015 with sustained winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, causing 11 deaths and widespread damage. Other parts of the region were also hit but not as directly and severely as Vanuatu.

“Cyclone Pam has ruined lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. Providing emergency relief is the first step towards restoring essential services,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “The wider socio-economic impact of the cyclone could be very significant.”

ADB approved the grant under its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund. It is earmarked to fund humanitarian and relief efforts, including the restoration of basic social services to affected communities, and is part of a broader program of post-cyclone assistance which ADB is extending to the country.

The Government of Vanuatu continues to manage and coordinate relief efforts across all affected areas, with a consolidated situation analysis report currently being drawn up to guide their work. ADB is also helping the government carry out a damages, losses and post-disaster needs assessment.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest | ABC reports Pam in Australia

Vanuatu’s government has launched a flash appeal to help thousands of people in urgent need of humanitarian aid in the wake of Cyclone Pam.

Jotham Napat, chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), said more than 166,000 people had been affected by the cyclone, with 110,000 left without access to safe drinking water.

He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat his country would need $US29.9 million to respond to the humanitarian crisis over the next three months.

"Vanuatu’s prime minister has launched a flash appeal asking the international community for help, in addition to what has already been provided," Mr Napat said.

"Over 75,000 people are in need of emergency shelter; around 15,000 houses have been destroyed or severely damaged, and many people have also lost household goods.

"The cyclone damaged around 63 per cent of the health facilities and has disrupted health service delivery.

"The appeal is also focusing on those key areas and we are hoping that different agencies, the international communities will support this appeal in order for us to actually assist our people."

UN seeks long-term aid pledges for Vanuatu

International aid has been pouring into Vanuatu in the 10 days since Cyclone Pam devastated the country, but the United Nations also said more was needed.

UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team leader Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said more than $US10 million in contributions from donors had been recorded.

Mr Rhodes Stampa said that figure did not include bilateral contributions from close neighbours like Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

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He told Pacific Beat the Vanuatu government’s flash appeal would give donors a better idea of what would be required over the coming months.

"This is for a global audience, although of course we’re looking at regional partners, friends of Vanuatu particularly, to come forward as they have already done," he said.

"Past the initial immediate aid relief operation, we’re looking to them to make a commitment to their partners in Vanuatu over a longer time period to meet all of the critical needs.

"It will be targeted to the provinces and the islands to meet the greatest needs first.

"We’ll be looking specifically at meeting water, sanitation and hygiene requirements."

Mr Rhodes Stampa said emergency food and shelter and the restoration of basic health provisions on even the remotest of islands would be a priority.

"But also, it’s critical that we get the children back in school, we return communities to a sense of normality as soon as possible, as well as providing for their most urgent needs," he said.

"We know that donors will receive this quite well, we’ve had a lot of interest and we expect the financial contributions to start ramping up slightly in the next 24 to 48 hours.

"And of course we count on the generosity of all of the donor nations around the world to support the people of Vanuatu."

Aid needed for several months: World Food Program

The UN’s World Food Program said some of the worst affected cyclone victims might need ongoing help for several months.

The Vanuatu government is aiming to provide immediate food assistance to tens of thousands of people with the World Food Program taking a leading role in supplying the food aid.

Spokeswoman Victoria Cavanagh said experts are determining where to direct the help.

"Right now, we have our food security experts on the ground, helping to understand the specific needs of vulnerable groups like mothers and young children with urgent nutritional needs, people relying on subsistence farming, that sort of thing," she said.

The UN agency is supplementing government food packages with rice and biscuits fortified with vitamins and minerals and it expects to provide assistance for several months for those who were most severely affected by the storm.

Food packages have been dispatched from Port Vila to six priority islands in Shefa Province and to Tanna Island in Tafea Province.

Aid workers said they are now trying to get emergency aid to isolated islands where airstrips, ports and communications have been extensively damaged.

France, Australia and New Zealand have sent ships and helicopters to help in the relief effort.


Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 25 March 2015

Acting Central Hospital Superintendent Dr Richard Leona is calling for more blood donors on page 1 of Daily Post today. They are receiving referrals from throughout the country since Cyclone Pam. However, they also have on hand an excellent team of medical officers from other countries who are assisting the local professionals. Daily Post makes it clear who should and who should not give blood at this time.

A smooth food distribution has proceeded in Freshwota, Post reports, using the community structure of the suburb. There were earlier concerns that difficulties might have arisen in the neighbourhood, but Councillor Sauwia is pleased with progress.

The Chiefs’ Nakamal may well cost VT 15 million in rebuilding according to the Malvatumauri President Chief Tirsupe. There was also reported to be theft at the Malvatumauri during passage of the cyclone. It would represent a major achievement for the present chiefly representatives if they could secure sufficient materials and labour to enable reconstruction without calling on national services’ funding.

TVL has considerable space in Daily Post today explaining how it is working 24/7. However, CEO Bheekhoo admits "Tanna has been badly impacted and needs a special attention in this post Cyclone Pam period."


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