Vanuatu relief efforts
Climate Change Resilience

21 April, 2023, Port Vila, Vanuatu - Vanuatu was hit by two severe tropical cyclones within 48 hours between 1–3 March, an unprecedented series of climate events for the southwestern Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) basin.

Severe TC Judy struck central and northern Vanuatu first, reaching Category 4 intensity. Category 5 Severe TC Kevin followed a more westerly trajectory, mainly affecting Efate island and the islands of Vanuatu’s southernmost province, Tafea.

Many communities experienced major flooding during the two events. Now, compounding the impact of the cyclonic flooding, weeks later, many of the same communities are now facing water shortages due to cyclone damage and water supply contamination.

This is a powerful demonstration of how extreme climate events can affect water resources and the communities that depend on them. In the aftermath of natural disasters, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) humanitarian response is given top priority to ensure that those affected have clean water for drinking, cooking and washing, can access toilets and keep clean.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has been assisting the Vanuatu Government’s post-disaster response through a SPREP-managed project, the Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu Project (known in Bislama as ‘VanKIRAP’).

VanKIRAP Water Sector Coordinator Mr Jonah Taviti has been providing the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office’s WASH Cluster with logistical support, helping to coordinate and distribute non-food items such as jerry cans and water bladders to affected communities.

Mr Taviti has been working on Efate and its offshore islands with colleagues from Vanuatu’s Department of Water Resources, who mobilised quickly as part of the national humanitarian response.

He explains that the cyclones “caused water shortages and sanitation concerns across all islands under their path”.

“Fortunately, we were well-prepared”, says Mr Taviti. “Climate information services like early warning systems and flood management tools are highly beneficial to local communities and provincial water managers in normal times—but after natural disasters, they become essential, because they give communities climate resilience.”

“In the post-disaster response to these two severe tropical cyclones, the Vanuatu Government has been using climate information services to pinpoint the communities most in need of water, sanitation and hygiene support”, he says, “and to make sure they receive the help they need”.

The Vanuatu Klaemet Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (Van-KIRAP) project is a five-year, USD 22 million project which aims to support climate resilient development in Vanuatu through the development, communication, and application of climate information services to benefit agriculture, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, waste sectors and communities. It is funded by the Green Climate Fund and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in partnership with the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and APEC Climate Centre. 

For more information, please contact Mr Sunny Seuseu, VanKIRAP Acting Manager, at [email protected].