The PENAMA Provincial Government Council (PPGC) agreed in a ceremony yesterday to secure land at Saratama on Ambae for families displaced by the volcanic ash, despite a declaration of state of emergency on the whole island last Thursday.
Daily Post was informed that yesterday's occasion marked the first installment of Vt1million to landowners of Saratamata, for an extension to the Saratamata subdivision.
The Provincial Government Council is looking at making similar arrangements and payments for land on west Ambae.
PPGC declared that off-island relocation is the last option for its people who have chosen to remain on their island and live with the challenges of an active volcano, the Daily Post has been told.
Ambaens need to be more resilient to climate change and its impacts, said PPGC President, Alban Garaevui.
“My council has made the decision to be proactive and to invest in the future of all Ambaens," he said. "We are looking to purchase similar land in the western part of Ambae for our displaced families this week.
“We are strong. We have seen suffering in our time, which goes beyond what our past generations had to endure.
“Today (Monday) we are making an investment for a better future.
“We are working very closely with the national government to ensure the safety and health of our people. We welcome the assistance of our partners to realize the implementation of the Saratamata extension.
“We have set our future. We do not want to leave our home.”
Yesterday’s signing was also a gesture of provincial leadership and resilience by the PENAMA Provincial Government.
Landowner Stevenson Vusilai said,"The signing seals our commitment to our people’s health, their livelihood and their future”.
He added: "Our land is our life.
“I have agreed to support the provincial government to provide this land for our displaced families from south, east and north Ambae to settle on.
"Our families have lost their crops and animals.
“Unlike them, we here at Saratamata have land that is available for them to start new gardens and new homes.
"We cannot be happy when our families are suffering”.
The PPGC has been distributing food, health and water kits to affected communities through its various clusters and to date has supplied over 700 kits.
It is understood that NDMO officers will be on the ground in the next couple of days to assist in the disaster response.