Two years after Pam - Recovery will take another two years, says NDMO

VANUATU will take another two years to fully recover from Pam, says the disaster management director.

As the second anniversary approaches, Shadrack Welegtabit reminded everyone that Vanuatu is one of the most disaster- prone countries in the word.

He said the reality of this hit home on March 13, 2015, when the most intense cyclone in Vanuatu’s recorded history smashed into the country.

Speaking with The Independent, the Director of National Disaster Management Office said most of the work has been done as part of the recovering program with a few schools and clinics still under reconstruction.

But Director Welegtabit said most of our local communities are still recovering.

“Vanuatu, especially the most affected islands, will take another two more years to be fully recovered,” he said.

“This was mainly because of the El Nino which we have faced straight after cyclone Pam. We hope that we will not face another disaster within two more years for our full recovery.

“As for communities in affected provinces, it will take more time for full recovery. Rebuilding back their permanent houses will not easy for the local villagers.”

He said at the moment his office is still receiving donations towards the cyclone Pam recovery.

“Most of the containers that contained goods have been distributed, just few of them that have been expired, so the team dumped it at the dumping site in Etas,” said Mr Welegtabit.

“During TC Pam, Vanuatu received more than 70 containers (both 20 and 40 foot containers) from different countries to help support the entire population of Vanuatu as part of the relief supplies.

“Sadly, 50 per cent of these food items were expired by the time they were accessed and were destroyed at the cost of the government.”

He said the total cost to the Vanuatu government to manage the 70-plus containers is difficult to quantify, but it is acknowledged that this money would have been better spent on recovery efforts.

“A year after Pam, I urged all donor agencies to support response efforts through cash donations rather than solicited goods,” he said.

He said an effective way to help next time when disasters strike is through cash donations as it would allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site, avoiding delays, steep transportation and logistical costs.

“With this call, the Fiji Government learnt through us when cyclone Winston hit them. They asked donors to help them in cash but not solicited goods.

“The Republic of Vanuatu experiences many natural hazards with the World Risk Report 2016 again rating Vanuatu as the most exposed country in the world to natural hazards.

“As well as regular cyclones there are other hazards including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, flooding,drought,landslides and tsunamis that can cause damage to infrastructure, environment, public and private property, as well as impact long term development efforts,” said Mr Welegabit.

“Communities in Vanuatu have built up a strong resilience to natural hazards through generations of accumulated experience in managing them.”

He said the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department (VMGD) support communities to prepare for and respond to cyclones and other disasters in the future.

“The Government of Vanuatu works with communities to develop warnings, guidelines and assistance after a major disaster. The NDMO is working with communities in rural and urban areas to create Community Disaster Committees and at a provincial level to create Provincial Disaster plans.”

He said the team’s advice on preparation for disasters has been developed to remind communities of the basic preparedness initiatives they should undertake.

“The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is grateful to receive generous assistance from individuals, groups, communities and countries in times of large scale emergency response,’’ he said.

He said the assistance comes in many different forms, including technical assistance, logistics support, cash donations and donated goods.

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