IOM Assists Vanuatu to Strengthen Disaster Management

Disaster Risk Reduction, Migration and Climate Change

Vanuatu - Tropical Cyclone Pam, a Category 5 cyclone which struck Vanuatu last March 2015 was the worst natural disaster in the history of the Pacific archipelago nation, causing serious damage to infrastructure and leaving many communities in need of humanitarian assistance. Now that the emergency has passed, attention has turned to preparing for and surviving disasters.

As part of its ongoing cooperation with the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office, IOM this week donated 150 emergency shelter kits, and has developed a standard design for a multipurpose community building which functions as a community centre with a rainwater collection point, and an evacuation centre during emergencies.

A prototype funded by the Republic of South Korea has been built in Sea Side, a suburb of the capital Port Vila. Residents have also benefited from technical training sessions conducted by Save the Children Australia as part of the ReBuilt project implemented by IOM in partnership with the European Union Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.

“The design has been conceived so that the structure can be used as both an open shelter for rain water catchment purposes and an easily upgraded enclosed structure that can be used as a community meeting space, kindergarten, or storage space, and provide safe shelter to the community in case of emergency,” explained Shadrack Welegtabit, Director of the National Disaster Management Office.

The Camp Coordination and Camp Management Unit of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) with IOM’s technical support, has also released the National Guidelines for the Selection and Assessment of Evacuation Centers.

The document, developed in consultation with the Public Work Department and the Ministry of Education, provides clear guidance for the identification and selection of evacuation facilities, and a checklist linking the national guidelines to the international standards on evacuation. These resources will strengthen Vanuatu’s capacity to manage displacement in case of natural disasters.

Finally, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) together with IOM and the NDMO, will conduct a joint mission on Mass Evacuation in Natural Disasters (MEND) in June 2016 to analyse gaps and identify plans for mass evacuation in the case of volcanic eruptions on the islands of Gaua, Tanna and Ambryim.

For further information please contact Alberto Preato, IOM Vanuatu. Tel +678 5489 205. Email