9 Apr 2015

A month after Cyclone Pam, some Vanuatu people without aid

8:24 pm on 9 April 2015

The chair of the New Zealand Disaster Relief Forum says nearly a month after Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, aid has still not reached some communities.

A woman carries bananas found amid the destruction caused by Cyclone Pam.

A woman carries bananas found amid the destruction caused by Cyclone Pam. Photo: AFP

Ian McInnes, who is also chief executive officer of Tearfund, says the delay is not surprising given the huge logistical issues in reaching every village.

He says the government and NGOs are attempting to supply two thirds of the population with relief.

"It needed to be shipped on to the outlying islands, more than 1000 kms in one case, and then broken down and put into smaller boats to go around coastlines, into trucks, onto four by fours, and in many cases walked up to the communities concerned. So it really has been an epic mission."

Ian McInnes says the next wave of distribution will not be direct food aid, but seeds and planting tools.

He says Vanuatu has experienced 124 cyclones in 70 years – a hurricane-force cyclone every 1.7 years.

He says the price of the rebuild Vanuatu is facing following the latest cyclone will be huge, with crude estimates by the World Bank at upwards of 100 million US dollars.

He says the country must be rebuilt stronger and more disaster resilient than ever.

"The opportunity is now with this funding to make improvements. Funding needs to be spent on improving these things ahead of what is inevitable. More cyclones and a greater intensity of them. And this is really not just predicted, but we're seeing this happen now on the record, simply greater more powerful cyclones due to the slightly warmer climate they face."

Ian McInnes estimates it will take Vanuatu between three and seven years to recover from Pam.

  • Serious danger ahead for Vanuatu children
  • UN says criticism of Vanuatu aid response is unfounded
  • Charity's concern for malnourished children
  • Vanuatu PM: "Please provide food"