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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:22

Act for Peace – Vanuatu Emergency Response

On 14th and 15th March, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu bringing mass destruction across the island nation. Some areas were battered by winds of over 300km per hour; many communities lost shelters, water tanks, schools, clinics and gardens. In a country where around 80% of the population relies on subsistence farming for survival, the impact of this category 5 cyclone has been devastating.

Vanuatu’s considered the most disaster affected country in the world. Over the last six years, Act for Peace and the Vanuatu Christian Council have worked together on programs which assist communities to prepare for disaster, providing training on how to identify risks and then to mitigate them, establishing disaster response plans, and setting up disaster response committees. We’ve also provided small grants to 9 communities to assist them to address risks related to climate change, including access to fresh water.

Act for Peace is working with the Vanuatu Christian Council to respond to the immediate needs of communities affected by Cyclone Pam, whilst preparing longer term programs to assist recovery. Staff and volunteers have distributed emergency relief items, and teams are now completing community assessments. Garden kits will be provided to enable households to replant their vegetable gardens, ensuring they can return to providing their own food in the near future. We will soon move to help communities restore water access mechanisms and repair church evacuation centres. And the Vanuatu Christian Council is chairing the first ever Church Cluster – part of the formal government and NGO response mechanism.

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This work is possible because of the support offered by our supporters, church and other organisations who have so far donated close to $318,000 of funds and goods worth over $425,000 . We’re hopeful of raising another $500,000 at least to enable the vital long term recovery effort. Special thanks go to Global Mission Partners (Churches of Christ), Transform Aid Australia (Baptist Churches), Lutheran World Relief and Give to Vanuatu for their donations. Pledges have also been made by members of the ACT Alliance which are not represented in this figure, and Act for Peace has funding applications in with another 4 agencies.

Act for Peace and the Vanuatu Christian Council are both working closely with other agencies responding to this disaster. We’re members of the in-country emergency response mechanism, and are the lead agency in the ACT Alliance Appeal prepared by members of the ACT Pacific Australian and New Zealand Forum. We’re chairing an information and ideas sharing forum with agencies in the 11 member Australian Church Agency Network and are working with Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), Uniting World, Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and Transform Aid International (Baptist World Aid) to look at developing a joint funding mechanism for Ni- Vanuatu church agencies to support long term recovery work.

The generosity of church agencies and the broader Australian public has enabled us to work in a truly ecumenical way through this response. Thank you to everyone who’s supporting this Appeal through prayer or financial giving, both of which bring encouragement and hope to our neighbours in Vanuatu.

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