In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Judy and Tropical Cyclone Kevin, the families and communities in Vanuatu faced immense challenges in rebuilding their lives. The depth of the impact and the resilience displayed by the people is truly remarkable, especially considering the obstacles they encountered, such as limited access to communication and essential resources.
Vanuatu, a country severely affected by climate crises, has suffered severe consequences. In March 2023, the country was devastated by two consecutive Category 4 tropical cyclones within a five-day period. The estimated cost of these cyclones to Vanuatu is more than half of the country’s annual gross domestic product.
In Vanuatu, where infrastructure is often limited in remote areas, the devastation caused by the cyclones made it even more difficult for families and communities to stay connected. With communication lines severed, many communities had to rely on a single phone to maintain contact with their loved ones and coordinate efforts for rebuilding.
In early June, the University of the South Pacific (USP) conducted a site visit to Vanuatu as part of the European Union-funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme to check on project activities and the well-being of our Research Community Officer (RCO).
The purpose of this visit encompasses participatory needs analysis, consultations with stakeholders and government officials, training on grant and proposal writing, and conducting events focused on raising awareness about Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and organising tree planting initiatives along the Tagabe Watershed Area.
During site visits and discussions with key stakeholders in Vanuatu, the PACRES team learned the unfortunate news that the residence of our RCO for the USP PACRES Programme had also suffered destruction from the devastating impact of the two cyclones that severely affected the nation. However, amidst this setback, it is truly remarkable to observe the resilience of the local population’s resilience as they work to recover and rebuild their lives.
Vanuatu is among the five countries that are benefiting from the capacity-building support provided by the USP Component of the PACRES program. With the program’s primary goal of strengthening resilience in these five implementing countries through capacity-building in resilient development, various activities have been implemented in Vanuatu.
While the road to recovery may have been long and arduous, the families and communities of Vanuatu demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination. Their ability to persevere in the face of adversity serves as an inspiration to others, highlighting the power of community bonds and the unwavering spirit of the human will.
The resilience of the families and communities in Vanuatu is a testament to their strength, unity, and deep connection with their land and culture. They drew upon their traditional knowledge, adapting and incorporating sustainable practices to rebuild to better withstand future natural disasters. By prioritising resilience and sustainability, they aimed to create a safer and more secure future for themselves and future generations.
The USP PACRES activities would not have been possible without the invaluable support and collaboration of Vanuatu’s Climate Change Division, Department of Forestry, community representatives, and key stakeholders. Their commitment and involvement have been critical to the success of these initiatives.
The USP component of the European Union-funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme is implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP, lead agency), The Pacific Community (SPC) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).