Cyclone Pam: Three months on

Pang Village-Philip, community leader, in front of new house under construction  Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS
Pang Village-Philip, community leader, in front of new house under construction Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS

On Friday 13th March 2015 a devastating, Category 5 cyclone, hit Vanuatu. The cyclone’s eye passed close to Efate Island, where the capital is located, and winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at 320kmph.

More than 13,000 homes were damaged and 180,000 people affected. In some areas trees three stories high were completely uprooted and many small communities were left with barely any homes still standing. Many families were already very poor and living in makeshift shelters, which were swept away by the cyclone. Schools and the hospital were damaged, water tanks blown away and water sources contaminated.

We responded straight away, distributing emergency relief items such as clean water, shelter and hygiene kits. Our teams have continued to deliver essential aid; pumping out contaminated wells, repairing water sources, distributing tools and seeds so crops can be replanted.

Water tanks from Oxfam being loaded on Rainbow Warrior at Port-Vila, Vanuatu. Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS

Water tanks from Oxfam being loaded on Rainbow Warrior at Port-Vila, Vanuatu. Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS

Supporting the local economy

Food supply and income generation were identified as two crucial areas, with the majority of food crops destroyed (both food and livelihood to many communities). We have focused on reinvigorating the local economy, and providing supplies and support to increase food production in both the short and long term.

Working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization we have distributed seeds to communities on Efate and Epi islands to help kick-start their gardens and diversify the local market. Oxfam has also provided livelihood kits, which include tools for gardening and maintenance, and we are working to support the rehabilitation of small-scale food gardens and crops.

Our cash-for-work program provides people with an essential income in the wake of the cyclone, participants have been working in and around Port Vila clearing debris and rehabilitating community gardens.

Vanuatu-Efate-Eton Village-(left to right) Stella and Chantal wait for their turn to get voucher Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS

Vanuatu-Efate-Eton Village-(left to right) Stella and Chantal wait for their turn to get vouchers. Photo credit: Groovy Banana/Oxfam AUS

Oxfam has implemented a voucher project to help families recover their livelihoods and lost assets. Vouchers can be exchanged at local suppliers for farming and building materials and other general goods people need, so they can rebuild and replant.

As a member of the Vanuatu Civil Society Disability Network, Oxfam has been advocating for the inclusion of disability-sensitive programming across the response.

We have been working with partners to both support our own programs and to build the capacity of local organizations.

Thanks to your generosity, Oxfam’s response has reached more than 21,000 people, in over 50 communities, spread over three islands, in the first three months since Cyclone Pam struck.

Donations in action

  • 265,800 liters of clean water delivered to 3,474 beneficiaries through water trucking activities on Efate Island.

  • 10,305 people accessing clean water through water system rehabilitation.
  • 
16,797 people on Efate, Epi and Ambrym islands receiving hygiene kits.

  • 3,406 people have learned good hygiene practices through watching a theatrical performance by Oxfam’s partner Wan SmolBag.
  • 3,743 people have received vouchers to exchange for tools, equipment and other goods.
  • 479 have taken part in cash-for-work programs
  • 1,505 people have received seeds and livelihood kits