Vanuatu Red Cross Society completed its emergency response on South East Ambrym

Port Vila, 08 March 2019 — Over 1500 people on four affected communities and two host communities in South East Ambrym were provided assistance from Vanuatu Red Cross Society.

VRCS deployed its field team on January 8, 2019 for rapid assessment to identify urgent needs in the South East of the island. The team comprised of 6 staffs from the Headquarter, 3 from Sanma RC Branch and 2 from Malampa RC Branch with the main task of verifying the data provided from 2016 census.

The assessment assisted 350 affected families with Non Food Items along with the awareness activities on safe emergency shelter, health and hygiene.

VRCS has worked closely with National disaster management office (NDMO) and Malampa provincial disaster committee; similarly, field teams worked closely with Area council and counsellors, chiefs on  mobilizing the communities to better respond to the situation. 22 volunteers were hired locally for assistance in assessment, awareness sessions and distributions. In addition, awareness sessions on safe shelter, First Aid, health and hygiene were conducted across 14 communities and one evacuation centre at Bossom primary school – Ulei .

With a total population of 2170 people, there are 518 household across all 14 communities, however only 3 communities were identified to evacuate to two host communities; the evacuated families were being placed with specific host families thus both host and evacuees were in need of emergency shelter

The total population targeted with emergency shelter is 1508 with 350 households

VRCS response strategy focuses on three main areas of support- supplying the affected population with essential Non Food Items emergency shelter, ensuring essential information reaches the affected population and providing psycho social support, health &Hygiene and First Aid.

An amount of eight million vatu (VT8, 000,000) from Disaster Response Emergency Fund was released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)  to support  Vanuatu Red Cross Society operation to supply  a total of 350 shelter tool kits, 700 tarpaulins, 350 hygiene kits and 700 Jerry cans of 10 L were distributed to each 350 households evacuated and  host families.

The VRCS intervention on South East Ambrym ended with a 3 days of Distribution Post Monitoring activity to get feedback from evacuees and host families /beneficiaries.

3 months VRCS activities planned for South East Ambrym communities

Port Vila, 21 January 2019 — Vanuatu Red Cross Society is maintaining its emergency response on South East Ambrym to run various related disaster activities for a period of 3 months.

As part of its first mission, a team comprised of staffs and volunteers from Disaster, Health and shelter sections spent 8 days on the ground to respond to communities affected by the earthquake occurred on the Island on December 15, 2018.

The most affected village is Paamal that encountered numerous earthquakes, and uplift causing damages to houses in the village.

On the ground, VRCS team recruited and trained 24 volunteers to assist in delivering awareness’s, assessments, demonstration of building an emergency shelter and distributions of Non Food items, NFIs.

In partnership with Malampa Provincial Government and the National Disaster Management Office and chiefs, VRCS managed to assess 513 households with 2156 population in total.

The emergency response of VRCS targeted prioritised affected communities of Paamal, Asse, Sameu, and Ulei by distributing 1 Shelter Tool Kit, 1 Hygiene kit, 2 Taps and 2 Jerry Canes (10L) to 321 Household each.

“Our emergency response is only for a period of 3 months, and we will provide more activities to all host and affected communities within that timeframe.

This mean that we will have other activities to be implemented on the ground such as early warnings, early actions, Disaster Risk Reduction, First aid training, hand washing, provide psycho social support to families, how to prepare an Oral rehydration solution, introduction of tippy taps, engaging villagers on a clean-up campaign, distribution dignity kits, also to build additional shelter” explained Disaster Management Coordinator Augustin Garae.

A second team of staffs and volunteers from Headquarter and Sanma Branch will deployed this week to continue with VRCS activities to communities on the island.

Vanuatu Red Cross Society emergency response on South East Ambrym affected communities

Port Vila, 02 January 2019  —The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released over eight  million vatu (VT8,000,000) from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the Vanuatu Red Cross Society  to reach up to one thousand five hundred and fifty two (1,552) people, affected by Ambrym earthquake occurred on December 2018. “The Vanuatu Red Cross Society operation aims to assist affected communities with basic needs.” says Jacqueline De Gaillande, Chief Executive Officer.

 Vanuatu Red Cross Society started this year on the second to mobilise its emergency response trained volunteers across Sanma, Malampa and the Headquarter in Port Vila to respond through the distribution of Non Food Items and provision of support for the evacuees, including doing assessments.

A Red cross team composed of 14 staffs and volunteers will deployed on the East of Ambrym from the 6th January to 13 January to assess 14 communities: Endu, Asse,  Sameou, Paamal, Toak, Barrias, Penapo, Maat,Vanen, Utas, Moru, Bethel, and Takiak, that were affected by the earthquake activity that caused cracks on buildings and land in some areas especially in the South East area where roads , water supplies, buildings and gardens have been damaged. 

The emergency funding will support 1552 people-350 households- with Tarpaulins, Shelter tool kits, Hygiene kits and other activities that will be implemented along with the distribution are: build back safer awareness, build emergency shelters, Health and hygiene promotion awareness, and psychosocial awareness.

 VRCS response on the ground will get assistance from the Chiefs and  Community Disaster Climate Change Committees – CDCCC.

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 191 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.

Over 3,000 villagers in Santo rural benefit from rainwater tanks  

Port Vila, 02 November 2018 — 11 rural communities from various areas on the island of Santo have benefitted from water tanks donated under a project funded by the Goldie Knight Foundation, an Australian based charitable organisation.

This project aims at improving water, sanitation and hygiene situation of communities in Vanuatu. It started in 2016, with phase 1 on the island of Tanna where 10 communities benefited from the construction of rainwater harvesting systems, tap stands, water pumps and latrines depending on the community needs.

The second phase targeted the province of Sanma (Santo /Malo), specifically communities from East Santo: Waisale, Manioc, Sara 2, Loran; South Santo: Sarete area 2; Lijiwi at Fanafo, Windau and Vusvongo at Big Bay Bush, Wael buluk at Stone hill, Malokilikili on Malo island.

Vanuatu Red Cross Society, as the implementing actor in this project, is working alongside Sanma Provincial Government and Area Secretaries to assess and identify communities that have no other sources of water access than rainwater harvesting.

“These communities received new rainwater tanks to assist in easing water stress during the dry season. VRCS volunteers worked with communities to install the tanks in public areas so that all community members could access the water” stated Ms Shirley Johnson, Sanma Red Cross Branch Manager.

The communities were chosen following advice from the Sanma Provincial Government that these communities often faced water shortages and could benefit greatly from increased water storage. Some communities were very remote and presented significant logistical challenges in the transport of the tanks and construction equipment however through the dedication of the volunteers, these challenges were overcome. As a result, 11 water tanks of 3000 Litre & 5000 L were installed in the last couple of weeks, reaching 3124 people.

Provincial Emergency Response Training


Port Vila, 24th October 2018 — A Provincial Emergency Response Team Training (PERT) was held last week in Santo, involving 27 Branch officers and their volunteers from Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa and Tafea. This is the first time that all provincial teams have come together in the one training.

It was a 5 days of intensive training starting from the 15th to the 19th of October 2018, at Banban area, and facilitated by the Disaster Management Team from the Red Cross headquarters in Port Vila.

The aim of this training is to help staff and volunteers at the branch level to refresh their knowledge and understanding of the Red Cross humanitarian mission, starting with the core values of the Seven Fundamental Principles that guide the mission of Red Cross around the world.

During theory sessions, participants were reminded about the importance of preparedness before, during and after a disaster, as well as the disaster response cycle. They learned how to do different types of assessments, obtain accurate household data, analyse information collected, and to write a situation report.

Participants were able to understand better the function of the Emergency Operation Centre, including the National Society’s structure in times of emergencies, and resource mobilisation including the operations and functions of the logistics department, with an emphasis on warehouse management.

This year is the first time to bring all together all branches staffs and volunteers in a PERT, as normally the ERT is conducted separately in each province.

According to the Disaster Management Team, this training allowed all participants to have a better understanding on Red Cross disaster response operations plan. The participants also undertook simulation exercises planned during the night and day to prepare for different situations.

For Branch Officers, the training enabled them to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, and to become more confident as they will be taking the lead to implement the plan of action in an emergency in the community level.

Partnership brings good experiences for Red Cross Volunteers

Port Vila, 17th October 2018 - Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS), in partnership with the National Disaster Management Office and CARE International, has conducted an evacuation centre baseline survey on the island of Maewo.

Vanuatu Red Cross Society through its established provincial branch in Penama Province deployed 9 of its volunteers to participate in this survey from the 8th to 12th October 2018.

Divided into 3 teams, VRCS Volunteers took the lead of each of the teams and were supported and supervised by NDMO officers, International Organization of Migration (IOM) volunteers, Public Works Department officers and CARE International.

Teams completed the survey in each village from the north to the south of Maewo, by assessing buildings that people in the communities normally use as safe centers during cyclones.

“In this shelter baseline survey, we spoke to chiefs, church leaders, building owners, school council or principals, to ask permission if we can assess their buildings. We collected information on the ownership of the building, we assessed the condition of the roofs, windows, doors and the dimensions of the buildings as well. With all the information collected, we assessed the capacity of the centers against the number of Maewo natives and the Ambae evacuees who are living in the respective villages “said Allan Tari, VRCS Volunteer Team Leader.

The information collected through this survey will be used by CARE International as part of its technical assessment of shelter on the island in preparation for the upcoming cyclone season.

“I am so grateful to be part of this digital survey, because it is a more effective method rather than fill up a survey sheet or form that we usually do in the past. Using this modern technology, gives me broader idea on how a digital survey is conducted, it improves my skills, gives me a new experience and also it builds new partnerships with other partners and organizations” stated Mr Tari.


Vanuatu to have an established and functioning National IHL Committee.

Port Vila, 16 October 2018 — Vanuatu has now an established and functioning National International Humanitarian Law Committee (NIHLC) appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Honourable Ralph Regenvanu.

The Council of Ministers, through its decision number 90 of 2018 has approved the establishment of an NIHLC whose functions are:

·         Work for the harmonisation of national legislation, regulations and practices with the international instruments of humanitarian law to which Vanuatu is party

·         Promote the implementation of international instruments of humanitarian law to which Vanuatu is party

·         Study and assess existing national legislation, judicial decisions and administrative provisions in the light of the obligations stemming from the Geneva convention of 1949, the additional protocols of 1977 and other instruments of humanitarian law to which Vanuatu is party

·         Advise the national authorities on issues relation to the implementation of humanitarian law, and to formulate recommendations and proposals in this regard

·         Monitor implementation of their recommendations and conclusions; and

·         Promote awareness of human rights and humanitarian law in the country by conducting workshops, seminars and disseminating information through the media.

Minister Regenvanu appointed representatives from various sectors in order to ensure a wide range of expertise, including:

Chairman: Allenrow Bani (Vanuatu Police Force); Vice Chairlady-Jane Bulesa Sao (State law Office)

Secretary: Majorie Wells or (DFA officers Jenny Tevi, Emmanuel Blessing Paolo Maximo, Fernandez Bororoa) members are from Department of Customs and Inland Revenue, Vanuatu Red Cross

Society, VANGO, Port Vila Hardware, Youth representative, Women Representative and Representative from the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs.

 According to International Committee of Red Cross’ (ICRC) Regional Cooperation Officer, Ms Christine Reddy Lata, ICRC is encouraging the Pacific Island National Societies to work with their respective governments to form their own National IHL Committees

Vanuatu started the formation process from October 2017, after the first IHL roundtable in Nadi- Fiji; it has now obtained the blessing of the council of ministers for the formation of the IHL Committee.

Restoring Family connection

Port Vila, 25 September 2018 — for the first time as part of its disaster response, Vanuatu Red Cross Society-VRCS- has implemented a “Phone credit transfer” program targeting families from Ambae who have moved to Maewo and Santo as a result of the ongoing volcanic eruption.

In the month of July 2018, during its distributions of non-food items on Ambae prior to the mass evacuation, the VRCS team collected phone numbers of several households.

The purpose of this program is to provide phone cards or direct top up valued at 1000 vatu for each household to stay connected with their families during this time of disaster. Families had the option to receive the 1000vt credit to one phone or to split between two phones - for example, 500vt for the father and 500vt for the mother.

Phone credit cards were provided to 600 households over the past week - 200 cards distributed to households in Maewo and 400 cards in Santo. An additional 700 households received phone credit via electronic transfer.

Last week, the Coordinator of the Phone Credit transfer program, Lindah Peter, led a team of Sanma Branch Red Cross Volunteers to visit Ambae families around Luganville and in rural areas from East to south of Santo.

Mathew Toka from Saralokambu village on West Ambae was very happy to receive this free credit on his phone.

It is a great initiative and I am so happy to be one of the recipients. Thank you Vanuatu Red Cross Society – VRCS and International Federation of Red Cross, IFRC. For me, receiving credits without paying for it, it is a blessing to me, because talking to one of my family member in such time of disaster, helps me to share my distress, to receive moral encouragement, also to ask for help when needed. My advice is for you (VRCS and IFRC) is to maintain this program; it is so helpful to us. And thank you Vanuatu Red Cross for the tool kit you have distributed to us.”

Vanuatu Red Cross Society response on Maewo Island.

Port Vila, 18 September 2018 — Vanuatu Red Cross Society is active on the ground in Maewo with its volunteers from Penama and Sanma Branches.

 A team of 5 Sanma Volunteers were deployed to Maewo Island, to relieve and assist Penama Branch Volunteers who have been working tirelessly to support off Ambae operations undertaken by the Government through the National Disaster Management office.

 On Monday 10th September 2018, 7 volunteers from Penama Red Cross Branch, led by Morris Tari, assisted Ngota community school to erect a child friendly space tent to be used as classrooms for Ambae children who are now living in the host village.

The Tents allocated for classrooms were distributed by Education cluster.

 According to Chief Michael Ngwele from Ngota village, his community population has increased with the arrival of over 130 Ambaean families and that requires additional shelters as teaching classrooms.

 Ngota community has a thatch house used as a kindergarten classroom, however with the additional number of school children from Ambae, the Shelter cluster with the assistance of VRCS volunteers has provided a tent to be used as classroom to accommodate 29 francophone students from year 4, 5 and 6.

  “I am so happy that we have an extra tent for our children. We do have a thatch house for year 1 that was built last year, but we need more because we have Ambae school children as well.

We are thankful that Vanuatu Red Cross Society comes now, because we have been waiting for help. Now our children from Ambae can start going to school“.

 Ngota village is now hosting 37 households – a total of 137 evacuees from Ambae and since last week National Disaster Management Office  started food distributions to all Maewo host communities

 Also, as Vanuatu is entering cyclone season, one of Vanuatu Red Cross society‘s core activities is to help vulnerable communities to prepare before any natural disaster. 

In partnership with Shelter cluster led by Public Works Deparment , Vanuatu Red Cross Society  like  other shelter partners, completed its assessment  in  Maewo host communities. Since last week, Penama RC Volunteers were visiting Maewo host communities’ evacuation sites to inspect existing safe centers, such as Nakamals, church houses and community halls, from the north down to the south of the island.

During the visit, the team identified building risks such as walls, doors, windows, roofs; and provided estimates on how many people can be saved inside each building. 

One of the common findings during the inspections is that there is a lack of space to cater for Maewo community and evacuees, and for some evacuation sites, there is no safe center at all.

All the informations collected during the assessment will be shared to shelter cluster Team for further consideration.

Vanuatu Red Cross Response on Maewo

Port Vila, 06 August 2018 — An whole evacuation operation is underway on the island of Ambae, since August 3rd 2018, where families have to leave their home to seek a second home on the neighbouring island Maewo, designated by the Government, while others chose to settle on the island of Santo.

Vanuatu Red Cross Society will soon deploy its teams of staffs and Volunteers to Maewo, to assist the displaced families from Ambae by  building additional shelters .

“The VRCS proposed plan puts emphasis on Shelter, and our emergency response plan is to build additional shelters by using tarpaulins that were already distributed to beneficiaries; also  we will be doing awareness on shelter  ” said Augustin Garae – Disaster Management Coordinator at Vanuatu Red Cross.

VRCS works alongside with partners like Shelter Cluster and National Disaster Management Office to provide assistance to Ambaean families who fled their home to seek a safer place on the island of Maewo.

Around 30 Red Cross Volunteers from Sanma, Ambae and Maewo branches will be soon deploy on Maewo.

“Next week, a team will be on Maewo to do 2 days assessments on resettlements proposed sites, visit host families, before we can deploy our volunteers on the ground. Our plan is to  build shelters at the Hosts communities, which means, it can be a sleeping room, a kitchen, or storage room, or a shelter for meeting or rest place for the family” said Mr Garae.

On the ground, VRCS will liaise with Community Disaster Climate Change Committee-CDCCC, area council’s secretaries, Provincial Government authorities and Communities.

“ Families, vehicles are now leaving Ambae, but Red Cross Vehicle is still on Ambae, assisting Police, to transport people with special needs from  their homes to the port of embarkation”

Around 10,112 people were on the island after returning from mass evacuation on September 2017 to Santo

.On 26 July the Government of Vanuatu announced an extended state of emergency and the compulsory evacuation of the population of Ambae.

It is a tough and uncertain time for the people of Ambae, dealing with the both the eruption and the evacuation. In the face of these events and not knowing when they will be able to return to their homes they have shown immense strength and resilience, and support for each other. Leaving your home – which is your land, your food source, your livelihood and your place of history, culture and community are incredibly difficult.