Drought aid distribution begins in Vanuatu
The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office has started distributing aid to islands affected by drought and still reeling from the effects of Cyclone Pam.
Its director, Shedrack Welegabit, says it will distribute aid to the people of Shefa, Malampa and Tafea provinces, targeting 15,000 households.
Mr Welegabit says the distribution of aid follows an assessment by the department of agriculture, which identified the areas most in need.
SHEDRACK WELEGTABIT: We have been monitoring the situation very closely over the past few months after tropical cyclone Pam. We have been working with the department of Agriculture and they have carried out an assessment indicating the hotspots for food. We are now planning all the distribution for hotspots covering Tafea, Shefa and Malampa. And we have begun distribution last week on Friday on Emau. This week we are planning to do distribution in Tafea followed by Shefa and Malampa province.
HILAIRE BULE: After the cyclone Pam you have encouraged people to plant the sweet potato or cassava, did they plant those crops?
SW: Yea people did grow a lot of crops after the cyclone but. If you realise that after the cyclone there was not too many heavy rainfall people are now harvesting what little crops are still around. They are still using those crops but then there are people in communities in the affected islands that are indicating food shortages and that is where we are coming in to do food distribution followed by soon we will be looking at water needs for those affected people as well.
HB: You distributed food mainly to the areas affected by cyclone Pam?
SW: Yea we sort of are looking at compiling food and then looking at the possibility of also fitting in water, bottled water and whatever water stock we still have sitting here in Port Vila.
HB: How many people are you targeting?
SW: It is over 15 thousand households a population of roughly 30 thousand or so.
HB: What is your expectation in the next month to come?
SW: My expectation is that the situation will go, well it is going bad, the dry season is now setting in and we are monitoring the situation closely in all the affected islands as well as throughout the Vanuatu. We are getting indications from islands that were not affected by TC Pam they are also indicating water shortages?
HB: How many tonnes of food have you still got after cyclone Pam?
SW: We are now buying more food we are looking at buying more food from the suppliers. So government has committed funds so we will be buying more food so that everyone on the affected islands can get some sort of food supply for food relief.
HB: Any request from donor countries?
SW: We will be going into that but at the moment we are using what we could come and we do first using whatever government resources we could put together. And once we have exhausted all the venues that are available in country, we are already talking with donors but as well as talking with donors it is good that government is taking the lead to respond to this situation.
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