Vanuatu cyclones: An update from our local partner 06/04 

In the first week of March 2023, a rare double cyclone event occurred in Vanuatu. On March 1st  category 4 Cyclone Judy hit, battering several islands of Vanuatu including the capital, Port Vila, cutting power and forcing some residents to evacuate. Then a few days later, a second Cyclone Kevin devastated Port Vila, on the island of Efate and hit the southern islands of Tafea Province on Saturday morning.  

What was the impact of the Vanuatu cyclones? 

Days after the twin cyclones, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau declared a six-month State of Emergency for the whole of Vanuatu with the entire country declared a disaster zone. He said the immediate priority was reconnecting power and telecommunication services and getting fresh water to affected areas.  

A mattress dries in the sun after the cyclones caused major flooding in this roadside settlement in Salili, a rural area outside of Port Vila. Sarah Doyle / Act for Peace 

Initial reports from Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office indicate about 80 per cent of the country’s population have been affected, including 125,500 children.  

Here is the latest update from our partner on the ground, Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC): 

  • There are currently more than 1200 displaced persons housed in evacuation centres and private homes around Port Vila and Efate Island. 
  • Rapid community assessments started on Tuesday 7th March in affected provinces. 
  • Power has been restored at VCC’s office, and more than 80% of customers now have access to electricity. 
  • Very limited access to fresh produce so people are living off imported packaged goods from the supermarkets. 
  • People in urban settlements and rural villages are facing food shortage with destruction to gardens so lots of food aid and climate resilient gardening inputs are needed. 
  • Throughout March there was ongoing flooding of urban and rural areas of Efate due to heavy rain. 

How have Australia and Act for Peace responded to the Vanuatu cyclones? 

In the immediate aftermath, Australia’s HMAS Canberra left Sydney for Port Vila with more than 600 Australian Defence Force personnel on board along with humanitarian supplies. 

Act for Peace in country staff have been supporting VCC with initial emergency coordination and communication including with VCC member churches.  

As soon as Act for Peace received news from our local partner about the situation on the ground, our team put out an emergency appeal to our supporters. So far, our supporters have generously given over $25,000 to help support VCC’s response. Thank you to everyone who has given. If you’d still like to contribute, click here.

One of VCC’s Evacuation Centres housing families who were forced to leave their homes because of the disaster. Sarah Doyle / Act for Peace 

How is our local partner, the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) responding to the Vanuatu cyclones? 

  • VCC is distributing to food to four church-managed evacuation facilities, and the Food Security Agriculture Cluster delivered 4kg of fish to displaced families at the VCC Evacuation Centre. 
  • VCC partnered with World Vision Vanuatu to distribute shelter kits, hygiene kits and jerry cans to 12 households housed at the VCC Evacuation Centres. 
  • VCC carried out an assessment of the evacuees/displaced persons’ homes to help meet individuals’ needs, and has provided rapid repair roofing kits for 11 displaced families whose homes were destroyed.  
  • VCC’s response is ongoing to support with inputs regarding food security and livelihoods, gender and protection and sanitation to affected communities in North Efate. 

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