More than 10,000 Vanuatu residents to benefit from natural disaster response program

December 18, 2012

SYDNEY, December 17, 2012 – The European Union, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the Global Environment Facility and the Government of Vanuatu will today agree to an US$11.52 million partnership aimed at building communities’ resilience to extreme weather conditions.

The program combines plans that reduce the risk of natural disasters with policies that address climate change and climate variability.

Disaster risk management programs will benefit around 35 different communities of between 4000 and 6000 residents, while up to 10,000 people will gain from more timely and accurate predictions of natural disasters. The project also aims to assist 10,000 farmers with better crop production technologies and more resilient food crop varieties. The installation of 300 rainwater catchment and storage systems will deliver safe drinking water to about 6000 residents of 120 rural communities.

“In Vanuatu, we are well aware of the consequences of climate change and variability. It significantly affects our lives,” says the Honorable Samson Samsen, Vanuatu’s Minister for Civil Aviation, Meteorology and Postal Services. “This partnership will help communities become better prepared to weather the sort of devastation natural disasters and climate change has on the livelihoods of Ni-Vanuatu.”

“Most sectors are affected but communities dependent on agriculture are especially susceptible to extreme weather conditions,” says Robert De Raeve, Chargé d'Affaires, European Union Delegation to Vanuatu. This project will assist the rural population to better adapt to climate change.”

Vanuatu already faces rising sea levels, more extreme weather patterns, and changes to agricultural productivity and water availability as a result of climate change. Being remote from government assistance makes relief efforts difficult, putting significant pressure on food and water security.

World Bank Country Director Ulrich Zachau says these challenges make Vanuatu one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. “Extreme weather changes are likely to intensify pressure on remote farming communities,” Mr Zachau says. “This project will help improve the lives of thousands of people.”

The Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazard Department will manage the project.

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