Leaders want schools on Ambae

“It is essential that our schools continue to provide normal education programmes on Ambae – a lifeline to future growth and development of the island.

“The May 11, 2018 Council of Ministers’ decision does confirm that people continue to live on Ambae”.

This is part of the seven recommendations listed by eleven Senior Leaders comprising the island’s three Members of Parliament and Custom Chiefs to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, to thank the Government for its prompt response towards the relocation of their people, due to the recent devastating volcanic ash fall over their island.

The letter also thanks Development Partners including members of Civil Society who have committed significant financial and human resources to help the victims.

It recommends:

• That National Government and Development Partners continue providing essential services to communities on Ambae. This would mean continuing to provide health, education, food, water, banking, business etcetera to communities within Ambae during this period of disaster and as the island of Ambae begins to recover.

• That government:

  • commit to invest in mitigation measures within Ambae and help Ambaeans adapt to living with a live volcano as has been the case with communities in other islands of Vanuatu such as Tanna, Ambrym and Gaua. Among other things we foresee the Government assist in establishing permanent evacuation centres in Safe Zones around Ambae.
  • continue to assist Ambaeans who wish to evacuate voluntarily to other islands. COMs Decision of May 11 2018 also confirmed this support through Decision 5 which states that “Government will provide support to Ambaeans moving to other islands to settle by providing subsidy to logistical arrangements and costs of settlement. This may also include special allowance for Ambaeans to access VNPF savings for the purpose of rebuilding their lives outside of Ambae.
  • assist with formal acquisition of land on Santo as Ambae ‘2nd home’ instead of separating different Area Councils to different locations around Vanuatu, and that this acquisition be completed by end of 2019. A reconciliation process earlier this year, Honourable Minister, facilitated by your Ministry, the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Ministry of Finance, Sanma Province, Luganville Municipality, Ambae Council of Chiefs on Ambae, Santo and Port Vila, paved the way for further dialogue on acquiring land for Ambaeans a ‘2nd home’ in Santo. Further justification for this call as previously communicated to your minister are as follows:

(I) Maintenance of our Cultural identity as enshrined in the Nation’s Constitution is very important. We need to stay together, for better unity, and to protect our identity (culture, language and values) for the benefit of our future generation.

(II) Accessibility and provision of essential services such as water, health services, education facilities, and shelter etcetera would be easier to implement. It would be much cheaper for Government financially.

(III) For governance purposes it would be easier to maintain and exercise existing community control structures for the purpose of maintenance of Law & Order and Freedom.

(IV) Staying together will enhance Unity and Harmony, productivity and contribution towards the national development process.

(V) Currently our people are traumatized from losing everything. Togetherness will enhance comfort, support and rehabilitation of our members, especially the children.

(VI) Easier to maintain political constituency obligations if whole island is located in one place.

That government:

  • follow through with its planned Decentralisation Process giving more power and autonomy to Area Councils. This process is on-going within all Area Councils of Ambae and it would be a shame to forego this very important process.
  • invest in more scientific equipment for study and monitoring of the Ambae volcano to enable better information, public awareness and education on essential mitigation measures and that the Government invest in educating a large number of volcanologists to fill the existing void.

• That the views of the people of Ambae as expressed through their democratically elected MPs and Councillors of Ambae Constituency, traditional chiefs and community leaders of Ambae are taken into consideration seriously by the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu when making decision on the welfare of Ambae communities.

Dated May 30, the letter was also copied to all other government Ministries and the National Disaster Management Office.

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