Water Access Brings Relief to Vanuatu's Most Vulnerable

When Cyclone Pam made landfall in Sasake Village on Emae Island in Vanuatu last March, Karie Manaruru knew that his house probably wouldn’t withstand the storm.

“My house was not in good condition so I went down to the doctor’s house to be safe. When I saw that my house was destroyed I felt terrible”, explains the 61 year-old.

Having lost a leg in an industrial accident in his youth, Karie Manaruru felt the task of rebuilding his home was nearly impossible.  “Living with one leg is not easy. When Cyclone Pam hit us here, it was very hard."

Fortunately, using tools provided by Red Cross Karie's family rallied to help out. "My family lost their house too, they rebuilt theirs first and then they rebuilt mine for me", he says. Karie, like more than 39,000 others in Vanuatu, also received critical relief items such as a kitchen set, shelter kit and solar light.

The next challenge was water. “It’s hard to do things like work in the garden, or collect water from the well,” Karie says. “ I can’t walk very far on these crutches and when it’s raining it gets very slippery and I often fall over.”

To make life easier for Karie, Red Cross installed a 1,100-litre water tank next to his house connected to a rooftop rainwater harvesting system. The system was constructed close enough that he no longer relies on his family to collect his water. This came at a good time, as the rains filled his tank in the weeks soon after it was installed.

“Before the cyclone I didn’t have a water tank and my family would have to bring me water for bathing and cooking”, he says. “If I could find someone to collect water for me I would ask them. If not, I’d have to do it myself. I’m thankful to the Red Cross for what they’ve done. These are things I will have for my entire life”. 

Since the tank was installed Karie now has sufficient water to get through the dry spell caused by El Nino which for months has brought drought-like conditions to much of the Pacific region.

Vanuatu Red Cross’s mission is to help improve the lives of the country’s most vulnerable people. People with disabilities such as Karie, are one of the groups given highest priority in our Cyclone Pam recovery operation. 

The relief items distributed in Vanuatu were jointly supplied by the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)), French Red Cross, Australian Red Cross and the Australian Government as part of the overall Red Cross response following Cyclone Pam.