The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began debris removal projects this week, providing income opportunities for cyclone-affected communities
Port Vila, Vanuatu – Cyclone Pam affected communities in Port Vila have started clearing rubble and household waste this week, earning much needed income to get back on track after the disaster. Many communities on Vanuatu’s islands are still struggling with piles of waste and debris such as fallen trees, broken building materials from damaged homes and quantities of hazardous wastes including asbestos medical waste. This causes grave concern about the environment and public health, especially as this time of the year is the peak transmission season for vector-borne diseases.
“With our Cash-for-Work project, we will support the Government in building back better during the recovery phase,” UNDP Deputy Representative Akiko Fujii stated at this week’s launch. “Restoring critical community infrastructure such as a functioning waste system decreases health risks, environmental pollution and helps clear access roads for humanitarian relief efforts. At the same time, we are reviving economic activities by providing participants with income and material to build back their communities.”
The loss of 96% of food crops as well as severe damage to coffee and sandalwood plantations has destroyed the main source of income for a majority of the population and could have a negative impact on Vanuatu’s economic development in the years to come, Ms. Fujii warns.
In collaboration with local authorities, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has started to employ community members to clear, recover and recycle waste, while also providing them with much needed cash and tools to help restore their livelihoods. The project will provide short-term employment opportunities for up to 100 most vulnerable men and women, ensuring safe waste removal and recycling benefitting over 94,000 citizens in Vanuatu’s capital and surrounding areas.
UNDP will assist the capital’s Municipal Council to rapidly clear Port Vila of cyclone debris and the backlog of one month worth of uncollected municipal waste as part of this $500.000 “Waste Management and Livelihood Recovery Initiative” that also aims at strengthening the government’s waste management system. “After the cyclone, our first priority was to get life-saving supplies to communities,” Cherol Ala, Director of Vanuatu’s Department of Local Authorities said. “While we are gradually moving into the recovery phase, we now are also working hard to fully restore basic services to our citizens and count on UNDP’s support,” she added.
UNDP plans to expand this project to selected cyclone affected communities on other islands over the coming weeks. The development agency is also revising its existing and planned projects to address the impact of Cyclone Pam, to prevent future disasters and enhance community resilience. This ranges from support to government to integrate disaster risks in development planning and training for officials as well as support for communities to enhance disaster preparedness at the local level. UNDP is also partnering with the Government of Vanuatu to mitigate the adverse effects of extreme weather events through a US$ 8.03 million coastal adaptation project.
Silke von Brockhausen, UNDP Communication Specialist, Vanuatu, +678 547 2295+678 547 2295, email@example.com, @svbroc