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Vanuatu: WASH update

MARCH 2016

Despite a challenging year in 2015, ABM and the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) Vanuatu continue to provide essential Water and Sanitation services to communities throughout the country, with the valued support of donors in the Anglican Communion.

In March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam caused devastation across the islands of Vanuatu. The Anglican Church of Melanesia worked with the Vanuatu Government’s National Disaster Management Office to provide relief to affected communities, and is now focused on planning for the future. ACOM Vanuatu, with the support of international partners including ABM, has developed a comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Plan which focusses on the following areas:   

  • Emergency Shelters
  • Food Security
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Training and Capacity Building

In preparation for future disasters, a total of 10 school buildings will be equipped with water harvesting infrastructure.  This includes repairs to roofing and guttering; large-scale water tanks ordered and connected; and distribution outlets prepared.  

ABM-funded tank at Losalava Junior Secondary School, Gaua Island, Vanuatu. Photo: Greg Henderson 2015
ABM-funded tank at Losalava Junior Secondary School,
Gaua Island, Vanuatu. © Greg Henderson/ABM 2015.












In 2016, ABM and partners will also fund the appointment of an ACOM Vanuatu Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator, a role that will be responsible for coordinating the Church’s disaster response and preparation efforts. There is also work being undertaken to prepare communities for the effects of the current El Niño drought conditions, including supply of drought resistant cuttings, vines, vegetable seeds, and hand-tools in the coming year.  

Aside from the disaster-related work outlined above, the 2015 Water and Sanitation Project has seen excellent results. Despite setbacks caused by Cyclone Pam, 6 water points and 13 sanitation facilities were installed. These facilities are estimated to reach 3720 people across the communities in which projects were implemented.

In 2015, WASH Committees (local groups that manage the water facility) were established in Lolotongwai, Maewo, Ambae, Qwetion and Lion Bay, with both male and female community representatives. In Port Patterson and Losalava, the tanks are attached to schools and rural training centres, and will be managed by the school and training centre management committees. In Ureparara and Merelava communities, the WASH projects will be overseen by the local Church.

In November 2015, 16 volunteers were trained in VIP Toilet Construction and provided with Hygiene Awareness Training. The volunteers are now equipped with the skills to build VIP toilets and to educate others on good hygiene practices, such as hand washing. The Church has also designed a standardised WASH Information Kit to disseminate to community members.

Moving forward into 2016 and beyond, ABM and the Anglican Church of Melanesia in Vanuatu are continuing to work in cooperation with other Vanuatu Churches through the Vanuatu Church Partnership Program. Despite Australian Government funding ending for this program, the importance of collaboration with other Churches is too great to be ignored, and the partnership and collaboration will continue with the support of our valued partners.

A boy fills his saucepan in Namasari Village, Gaua Island, Vanuatu. © Greg Henderson/ABM 2015.
A boy fills his saucepan in Namasari
Village, Gaua Island, Vanuatu.
© Greg Henderson/ABM 2015.

The need for water and sanitation in Vanuatu communities remains great. Population growth, contamination of water sources from farming activities and climate change, and the low level of hygiene awareness that still exists in many communities means that the demand will remain. With the assistance of our generous supporters, ABM and ACOM Vanuatu can continue to serve Vanuatu communities in this critical area. Particularly during disasters such as Cyclone Pam, the need for safe water is heightened, due to traditional water sources being polluted with rubbish and debris, making it unsuitable for drinking or washing. If communities are equipped with tanks that hold clean water, these risks are mitigated, leading to a shorter disaster recovery period. We have seen this as a tangible result of WASH projects completed in the past, which has strengthened the resolve of both ACOM Vanuatu and ABM to extend the reach of our Water and Sanitation Project.

 ABM looks forward to working with its supporters, and with the Anglican Church of Melanesia, to provide safe water and hygiene facilities across the islands of Vanuatu.