In Vanuatu, the SSVP mobilised to help the victims
13 May 2015 National Councils news
On 13 March, Cyclone Pam crossed the Vanuatu archipelago, with winds of up to 360km/hr. Mobilised to offer emergency help to the victims. SSVP is also involved in a prevention scheme to help the population deal with future natural disasters.
The government of Vanuatu announced a state of emergency. According to the estimates from the NDMO (National Disaster Management Office) 15,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, 75,000 people are still without shelter and 160,000 people (out of a total population of 260,000) will need food aid over the next 3 months. The impact of the disaster on the farming sector is grave, compromising food security and the income of a large majority of the people affected throughout the country.
A crisis meeting was held at the Society’s offices in the days following the catastrophe, attended by the National President Mr Rodophe Hoketh, the president of the Board, Mr Ambrosio Melteres, conference presidents and members. Mr Tabisap Elia was appointed national coordinator for natural disasters.
The island of Efate, where the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, is found, was seriously affected by the cyclone: a large number of buildings were destroyed or damaged. An SSVP shelter for the homeless was completely destroyed: the sheet metal roof was torn off and blown away by the force of the wind, and the people inside had to take refuge in the SSVP offices.
The national coordinator for natural disasters, Mr Tabisap Elia, spent Easter week on the Island of Tanna, the most badly affected by the typhoon, to assess the needs of the SSVP conferences members on the ground, as well as damage to buildings such as schools, churches and priories. According to the local Conference President, Mr Gaetang Yaukelo, there are about fifty members. Many organisations are providing emergency food aid, but members of the Society urgently need decent homes that will be able to tolerate any future cyclone or earthquake, so that they themselves can provide help to other people in need, in accordance with their duty to the community in this kind of situation. The churches need to be repaired or rebuilt, as do the schools so that the students can resume their education.
With the support of the regional coordinator, Keith Norton, a broad reconstruction programme is being developed, with the aim of helping communities stand up better to future disasters, by constructing buildings that comply with the standards for reducing risk. Part of the programme will also be committed to providing sanitation, water storage, emergency plans and evacuation centres so that the people are better prepared and organised when such disasters occur. The members of the SSVP conferences will be closely involved in this programme.