YOUR June peace mail from Vanuatu
My name is Job and I am the Project Manager for the CAN DO Disaster READY program in Vanuatu. I have been working with Act for Peace’s partner, the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) for 11 years.
Julia Loersch/Act for Peace
I have had many roles in my time working with the VCC but working with local people in the communities we support is my passion. As part of my work, I go out into local communities and train people on disaster risk management. Together, we create a community disaster plan and train people on how to prepare for disasters through simulation exercises.
It has been just over a year since Tropical Cyclone Harold hit, which caused catastrophic damage to the islands of Pentecost and Santo. It has impacted them very badly. We have provided psychological first aid and psychosocial support to those most affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold. Now, we are in the recovery phase, but we continue to face challenges because of COVID-19.
The impact of coronavirus in Vanuatu has been huge. While we haven’t had many cases, the pandemic has destroyed the tourism sector – this is the main source of income for many people who now don’t have jobs. It has also impacted the private sector, particularly retail shops, because a lot of people have been laid off from their work.
For us at the VCC, it has also meant that our programs are running behind schedule because of ongoing lockdowns. But despite the challenges, program staff have been flexible to adapt. I personally think that one of the things that really touched the lives of people in the community was during our COVID-19 response – we distributed handwash stations to churches, health facilities, clinics and dispensaries, and it all goes back into the community.
We have now distributed around 200 handwash stations and we are working with church leaders to conduct awareness and trainings on COVID-19.
Right now, we continue to work with local communities to prepare them for future natural disasters. We’re working closely with Vanuatu disability groups to ensure that no one is left behind. We’re also working closely with churches and training local church leaders. These leaders then train church members in their own communities to help keep everyone safe during a disaster, just like Tropical Cyclone Harold.
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Vanuatu is the most at-risk country in the world for natural disasters. The Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), Act for Peace’s partner, trains communities to be prepared for disasters through the Disaster READY program, which is supported by the Australian Government and implemented through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. This helps people be prepared for the next disaster and be more resilient to withstanding their impacts, just like the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold.
The program is designed to increase community, provincial and national humanitarian disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience capabilities; support the inclusion of children and youth, women and people with disabilities in disaster mechanisms; and improve coordination between government, NGOs, the private sector, faith-based organisations and communities.
Thanks to your ongoing support, the VCC are helping the people of Vanuatu to be better prepared for disasters and the shocks of climate change. While many communities are already benefitting from this essential training, there are many more that need to be reached.
Disaster READY is supported by the Australian Government and implemented through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.
• For continued support and resources for the VCC in their important work.
• For the staff at the VCC. Help them in all the work that they do for the people of Vanuatu to better prepare them to cope with natural disasters.
• For the communities still recovering and rebuilding from the effects of Tropical Cyclone Harold.
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