A ceremony was held on 31 August 2017 to celebrate the handover of completed Water Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure on the islands of Epi, Lamen and Emau, as part of the Tropical Cyclone Pam Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector Recovery Project.

As a result of the support from The Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources and its partners, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Oxfam Vanuatu, at least 1,700 people in 31 communities and 10 schools on the islands will directly benefit from improved water systems as well as improved knowledge on sanitation and hygiene.

“The principle of ‘Building Back Better’ underpinned much of the Government’s collaboration with partners in the recovery phase after Cyclone Pam, including in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector,” Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu stated. “This is to ensure our vision of sustainable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation set out in Vanuatu’s national water strategy is achieved,” he added.                      

UNICEF Chief of Vanuatu Field Office, Andrew Parker, said, “While it is critical to deliver safe water and sanitation to vulnerable children and their families, emergencies provide UNICEF and our partners an opportunity to focus on building more resilient communities to ensure protection of children, especially those under five years from threats posed by waterborne diseases.”

Vanuatu is one of the most disaster prone countries in the Pacific. Following Cyclone Pam, a category 5 cyclone, it was important to ensure new water and sanitation systems were not only physically resilient to future disasters and emergencies, but also communities were given the skills to maintain and manage the new systems. 

“Improved access to safe water and sanitation for people and communities is part of New Zealand’s commitment to better health outcomes in Vanuatu,” said New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Georgina Roberts. “We are pleased to support the Government of Vanuatu and partners in its recovery programme to deliver resilient, safe water and sanitation to communities in Shefa Province contributing to better health outcomes.” 

Strong community involvement, management and ownership is key to sustaining any successful initiative. Support of leaders and members of the communities on all three islands is acknowledged by the partners.

The NZD 2.5 million provided by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to the TC Pam WASH Sector Recovery Project guaranteed the completion of the project by Government of Vanuatu, in partnership with MFAT and UNICEF covering areas in the most affected provinces of Shefa (Epi, Lamen, and Emau Islands including peri-urban Port Vila) and Tafea (Itaku and Imarkak communities on South Tanna and White Sands as well as on the islands of Erromango and Aniwa).

For more information, please contact:

Annie Samuels, Department of Water, 5333820, asamuels@vanuatu.gov.vu

Rebecca Olul, UNICEF Vanuatu Field Office, +678 24655, +678 77 666 04, rolul@unicef.org