Five years ago on Friday 13 March 2015 category five Tropical Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest of its kind, struck Vanuatu. Sadly, eleven people lost their lives and the cyclone caused widespread damage to roads, public buildings, homes and gardens.
Now the picture is quite different. In the last five years there has been a national effort to restore livelihoods, boost the local economy and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
At Vanuatu’s request, Australia was the first donor to respond to Tropical Cyclone Pam with an initial AU$15 million in humanitarian response. Australia responded to a further request for assistance with recovery efforts and contributed an extra AU$35 million to Vanuatu.
“Today we commend our partners in Vanuatu from the public and private sectors who have driven this ambitious and successful partnership. It is a strong sign of friendship between Vanuatu and Australia and we are proud of what we have achieved together,” said the Australian High Commissioner, Sarah de Zoeten.
The restoration of priority infrastructure was a strong component of the partnership to ensure basic services were restored to people affected by the cyclone. Infrastructure has been re-built to withstand future disasters. Over 5,100 primary students in Tafea Province are being taught in 204 new classrooms across 53 primary schools. At least 65,000 people are being treated in 73 new and renovated health buildings and over 7,000 government and other officials are occupying 62 newly reconstructed public buildings.
In addition over 50,000 people are using the 87 new or restored water systems across four provinces. The recovery program also supported agriculture and tourism.