Cleaning up Vanuatu after the storm

Port Vila, Vanuatu residents working to clean up debris from neighbourhoods affected by Cyclone Pam as part of the joint Caritas-Oxfam 'Cash for Work' livelihoods programme. Photo: Crispin Anderlini/Caritas

Port Vila, Vanuatu residents working to clean up debris from neighbourhoods affected by Cyclone Pam as part of the joint Caritas-Oxfam ‘Cash for Work’ livelihoods programme. Photo: Crispin Anderlini/Caritas

Groups of local men and women have taken to the streets of Port Vila, Vanuatu to help clean up the neighbourhoods hardest hit by Cyclone Pam as part of a joint Caritas/ Vanuatu Diocesan Disaster Committee (DDC)-Oxfam ‘Cash for Work’ programme.

With the aim of reinvesting in the local economy by providing paid work to residents in the capital, the 10-day programme also serves to clean up damaged areas and help move the emergency response forward from providing relief supplies to supporting a recovery phase where rebuilding can occur.

“Cleaning up streets is important to the recovery, as it helps restore the infrastructure to better prepare for future emergencies,” says Mark Mitchell, Humanitarian Programmes Coordinator for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We are leveraging the strengths of both organisations. Oxfam has existing systems, equipment and expertise with this type of relief programme, while Caritas and Vanuatu’s DDC has the network of local people who want to volunteer.”

Utilising the existing Church network, Caritas has recruited 54 people – many from the same areas of Port Vila they are working to clear debris from – and provided the contracts for those employed. Oxfam are paying wages and providing the tools and protective gear for the work being done in three areas of the city.

“This programme is very important because it’s providing work for our young people and helping our communities,” says Oxfam volunteer Cherol Alatoa, a coordinator for one of the work teams.

Caritas is now making plans to deliver a similar programme on Tanna Island in areas that were badly affected by the category 5 storm that hit the South Pacific nation on 13 March, 2015.

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