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.

Vanuatu Red Cross Response to Ambae Ashfall disaster

Vanuatu Red Cross response to Ambae asfall disaster.

Port Vila, 01 August 2018 — Manaro Voui, the active volcano which forms the island of Ambae in Vanuatu has been erupting since September 2017, killing crops, polluting the air and water, and forcing people to flee their homes.

Approximately 10,000 people call the island home, most have fled to a safe spot in the south and some have already relocated to nearby islands.

Recent eruptions have worsened; food crops and water sources are now severely contaminated. The recent heavy ash fall occurred on the third week of July prompted villagers on the South of Ambae to flee their home and seek evacuation centers on the East.

Population from Ambae and neighbouring island can hear rumbling, volcanic explosions from volcano, smelt volcanic gases, see ashes and gas plume and glows over the mountain.

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

Vanuatu Red Cross teams were on the ground a week before the heavy ash fall get worsened for its  distribution response operation plan, targeting 1000 household on the West, East, North and South.

Volunteers have been working to keep evacuated communities safe and healthy through awareness activities that focus on water, hygiene promotion and epidemic control.

They have also distributed relief items to 1000 (approx. 5,000 people) households including tarpaulins, shelter toolkits, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets, solar lights, mosquito nets, and hygiene kits.

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

Evacuations will be by boat to the neighboring island of Maewo, these will be carried out by the government beginning on the 3 August.

Due to the nature of the disaster on the South and South East, Vanuatu Red Cross had to call off its response plan and assist the Provincial government, by providing human resources and a lorry to evacuate people in most vulnerable communities on the South of Ambae.

Red Cross Response team did new registrations on evacuation centers, assesses affected communities, provided psycho-social support, and distributed pre-paid phone credit cards help families separated during this disaster to stay connected.

According to Disaster Management Coordinator Augustin Garae, there are 2 wards on the South, Redcliff that accommodates 49 households and Lologaro with 8 households, were not been able to be reached due to the poor access and visibility on the ground, air and sea.

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.

IFRC as the Shelter Cluster co-lead with the Vanuatu Government is supporting emergency shelter coordination at the provincial and national level and will continue to assist with shelter needs for affected communities.

For more information

In Port Vila, Vanuatu: Olivia Finau, Vanuatu Red Cross Communication and Dissemination Officer

dissemination@redcrossvanuatu.com

+678 731991

Resilience Project underway

Port Vila, 11 July 2018 — Coastal cities face a high risk from hazards caused by natural disaster, and costly flooding from heavy rain and sea level rise amid climate change. Their current defences will not be enough as the water level rises.

In a project funded by USAID, the Vanuatu Red Cross has identified five communities in Luganville that are particularly vulnerable to the risks associated with shocks and stresses such as climate change and hazards caused by natural disaster.

The coastal cities resilience project is in collaboration with the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC), the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the American Red Cross. A pilot project is being carried out in Luganville and focuses on building the resilience of coastal communities that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and prone to natural disaster.

The communities of Solwe, St Michel, Mango, Pepsi and Chapui in Luganville were identified in a citywide assessment as particularly vulnerable to damage by shocks such as cyclone, flood and landslide. With tropical storms expected to become stronger with time, the issue is becoming increasingly urgent. Rising sea levels will also pose a problem as some of these communities are built close to the sea and other waterways.

The aim of the project is to create effective city coalitions on community resilience, targeting climate smart resilience and coastal risk reduction in particular. Some of the outcomes of the project will be improved drainage solutions to help during times of heavy rain, and new structures built away from the coast and areas prone to landslide.

An accompanying communication campaign utilising SMS, radio and community noticeboards will also be rolled out across Luganville with advice about how to prepare for climate change and times of disaster, and good hygiene practices. The public can keep up to date with the project by joining the Facebook group Luganville Community Resilience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

France - "Action Humanitaire" in Santo schools

French Government Contribution to Ambae humanitarian Response Plan.

Port Vila, 13 July  2018 —The French Government, has contributed to Ambae humanitarian Response plan, by funding and  delivering  50 cartons and bags of Non Food Items (NFI) to  Bombua High School and Londua  academic school  in Santo .

This contribution has been implemented through French Red Cross based in Port Vila to support Vanuatu government to manage natural disaster aftermaths.

Londua  is one of the school on Ambae that is being relocated to Bombua High School at Banban Area  on Santo, with over 90 students and staffs.

Since the arrival of Londua students and staffs at the site, it prompted Bombua school administration to create plans and developments to cater for the needs of the school.

It’s been one month since Londua relocation, students and staffs are facing difficulties on having a flow supply of water in the compound – a challenge that Vanuatu Red Cross delegation picked up during its recent visits in Santo.

Thanks to French Red Cross, a partner to VRCS, that agreed to offer its assistance to these schools  by fixing the water supply Solar system,  in addition, with Non Food items such as 10 tarpaulins, 10 sleeping mats, 10 kitchen sets, 10 Jerry cans, and 10 boxes of Hygiene Kits, all valued at over 500,000 vatu.

The donations and assistance given by French Red Cross, with the support of Vanuatu Red Cross to the schools were witnessed by a visit from the French Government delegation from New Caledonia, led by the Minster of Education Helene Yekawe, accompanied by Louis Arssac – Charge de cooperation et action culturelles from French Embassy in Vanuatu. The French delegation was surprised to see the Bombua School building conditions, as well as tents used for accommodations, classrooms, temporary ablutions, for staffs and students.

This stopover of an hour at Bombua School  have triggered special attention of  the French Government Delegation from New Caledonia, of which could be  included in future  “Operation Castor” under the Development aid program for Vanuatu.

 

 

French Government contribution to Ambae Humanitarian Response Plan

The French Government, has contributed to Ambae humanitarian Response plan, by funding and   delivering 3 tons of Non Food Items (NFI) to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society through the French Red Cross operating in Vanuatu and the logistic means of the Army Forces in New Caledonia..

This contribution has been implemented within the FRANZ (France, Australia, and New-Zealand) framework agreements, which aim to support Vanuatu government to manage natural disaster aftermaths.

Last month, the Vanuatu Government through National Disaster Management Office –NDMO has sent a request for assistance to the FRANZ unites and the Vanuatu Red Cross Society, as a leading humanitarian actor in Vanuatu, and which is also working closely with its partners such as French Red Cross.

The French Red Cross is in country since 2006, with around twenty projects implemented so far in the fields of WASH and Disaster Management, including emergency responses to 2015 TC PAM and Ambae Volcano eruption in October 2017.

On Saturday 12 May 2018, a CASA plane from the French Air Force landed at the Port Vila International Airport with international supply from French Red Cross warehouse in New Caledonia, funded by the French Government as participation to Ambae disaster response, amounting 10 million VUV.

The French Government contribution is to address the needs for 150 displaced families or around 750 people through the provision of Non-food items and emergency shelter assistance. In addition, up to 100 hosting families may be supported as well to facilitate the integration of the evacuees to their resettlements sites.

The supply from the French government was coordinated by the French Red Cross Delegation in Port Vila, led by the Country Director, David BOISSON, in conjunction with Vanuatu Red Cross Society and the French Embassy in Vanuatu..

The international supply is comprised of 150 family kits that include kitchen set, shelter set, sleeping mat and tarpaulins.

Also the French Government is also looking at locally purchasing 1000 other NFI (blankets, jerry cans…) to be distributed by Vanuatu Red Cross Society to 150 displaced households and up to 100 host families, according to further assessment on relocation sites.

“At this point in time, VRCS has not yet decided on the dispatch of this relief supply, until we receive a final decision and relocation plan from the government about the Ambae situation, then from there VRCS can proceed with its response plan. But in the meantime, we already sent a vehicle to Ambae to help our Red Cross Volunteers doing the ground work. Transportation is one of our big challenge in our islands “said the CEO of Vanuatu Red Cross, Jacqueline De Gaillande

Disaster Response Emergency Fund allocated to Vanuatu Red Cross Society

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released over thirty million vatu (VT30,000,000) from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the Vanuatu Red Cross  to reach up to 5,000 people, affected by Ambae Volcano eruption. “The Vanuatu Red Cross operation will aim to assist people permanently relocating from Ambae to transition to their new location and begin to rebuild their lives.” says Jacqueline De Gaillande, Chief Executive Officer and Disaster Management Coordinator of Vanuatu Red Cross Society.

 “Vanuatu Red Cross will mobilise its emergency response trained volunteers across Penama, Sanma and Shefa provinces to respond through the distribution of relief items and provision of support for the evacuees.”

Commenting on the nature of the response, Mrs De Gaillande says “This response differs from our usual responses as the evacuation is quite a slow process however Vanuatu Red Cross will be ready to assist as soon as evacuation plans are confirmed and people start moving. Until then, Vanuatu Red Cross is working with the provincial government on Ambae to assist people evacuated to safe centres in the East of the island and to ensure that key messages regarding the plans for evacuation are reaching communities.”

The emergency funding will support approximately 5,000 people  – up to 1,000 families – with water, sanitation and hygiene support, materials for emergency shelters such as tarpaulins and shelter tool kits, household and personal items, as well as water containers.

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.