Cyclone Pam

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Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu on the evening of 13 March causing widespread destruction and devastation across the small island nation. Over 165,000 were affected by the category 5 cyclone.

Many families in Vanuatu are extremely poor and were living in makeshift homes when the cyclone hit. 15,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, up to 96% of food stocks were ruined and water supply to 110,000 people was disrupted, destroyed or contaminated.

Oxfam teams started responding immediately after the cyclone hit by distributing emergency relief items such as clean water, shelter and hygiene kits. In the three months since the cyclone, Oxfam has reached over 21,000 people through our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihood programs.

Oxfam’s response

Clean Water

In the days following the cyclone, Oxfam focused on the immediate supply of clean water to affected communities on the island of Efate. Over the course of a month, our teams delivered 265,800 litres of clean water to almost 3,500 people.

Oxfam has also worked to repair damaged water sources on Ambrym, Efate and Epi islands to make sure clean water can be accessed in the longer term. Over 10,000 people are accessing clean water through Oxfam’s water system rehabilitation.

Hygiene & Sanitation

The distribution of hygiene kits including basic essentials such as soap, buckets, towels and toiletries was critical in the days following the cyclone. Our teams have supplied over 3,000 hygiene kits to affected households on Ambrym and Efate, reaching approximately 16,800 people with basic necessities. We’re also working with the local community to meet long term sanitation needs.

Rebuilding Livelihoods

Cyclone Pam destroyed the vast majority of gardens and crops that the local communities relied on for food and income. Debris was strewn across large portions of the country, and household and farming tools were lost or destroyed.

In Port Vila, Oxfam is running a cash-for-work program to provide people with an income. So far almost 500 men and women have taken part in the program, clearing debris and rebuilding community gardens in return for cash payments. In the longer term, Oxfam is working with a local partner to provide resources such as tools, chickens, seeds and other materials to help people restart their businesses.

In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Oxfam has been distributing seeds to communities on Efate and Epi islands to kick start their gardens. Along with seeds, we have been giving out kits including gardening and other tools to help re-grow gardens and crops.

Oxfam is also carrying out a voucher distribution program which allows people to exchange vouchers at local retailers. The vouchers can be used for farming and building materials, as well as general goods to help families recover their livelihoods and lost assets.

Six months after the cyclone, small scale crops and kitchen gardens are growing back and local markets are starting to recover.

See the latest update on Oxfam’s work in Vanuatu (as of 13 September 2015)