Shepherd Island, Vanuatu – Almost two years ago, Vanuatu was devastated by one of the strongest cyclones in the Pacific leaving thousands of people homeless. Through the Vanuatu Livelihoods for Resilience Initiative under the Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam Recovery Project, the people of Shepherd Island in the Shefa Province of Vanuatu continue to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of TC Pam.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Russian Federation recently handed over community goods and opened community centers for the Tongoa, Tongariki, Buninga, Mataso and Makira communities of the Shepherd Island to aid their recovery efforts.
In his opening remarks, Vanuatu Prime Minister, H.E. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas said, “It is with great honor to convey to UNDP our heartfelt appreciation for supporting our people after TC Pam. The Vanuatu Livelihoods for Resilience Initiative has helped rebuild our communities and strengthen our resilience as we face future disasters.
About 35 national and provincial government officers accompanied officials from UNDP to open the community centers that have also been designed as evacuation centers for the communities in an event of a disaster.
In his message to the communities, Prime Minister Tabimasmas added, “We hope the community centers will become a multi-purpose hall to accommodate your meetings, workshops, use it as market centers and emergency evacuation centers during natural disasters”. He has reminded the communities that Vanuatu is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
The second phase of TC Pam Recovery Project, which was boosted with further funding of US$500,000 from the Government of Russian Federation, partnered with the Department of Fisheries to provide training to communities on fishing techniques, construction and deployment of six Fish Aggregate Devices in the Shepherd Islands, and re-engage their Rural Fishing Program under the Fishermen’s Association.
The items handed over to the communities included fishing gears, fishing boats with outboard motors, sewing machines, solar lighting systems, solar deep freezers, and portable solar equipment.
In her opening address, UNDP Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani said, “I offer my warmest congratulations to all the communities of the six islands in the Shepherd Islands for your dedication and commitment to our recovery work since TC Pam struck almost two years ago.
“UNDP values very highly the partnership that we have developed with the Government of Vanuatu especially in the islands of Mataso, Makira, Emae, Buninga, Tongariki and Tongoa of the Shefa Province, on your participation with the TC Pam Recovery Project. It is this partnership which has enabled this high level government delegation and project partners to be here today to witness this official handing over ceremony to commemorate your achievements enabled by the TC Pam Recovery Project”.
The project also provided capacity building support through trainings and workshops in partnership with Wan Smolbag, Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu, Vanuatu Cooperatives, National Bank of Vanuatu and the local government’s Department of Fisheries to expand people’s knowledge and help them generate income.
The Vanuatu Livelihoods for Resilience Initiative under the TC Pam Recovery Project started in 2015 and with further funding of US$500,000 from the Government of Russian Federation a second phase started in November 2015. The project officially ends 31st December 2016.
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