Over 200,000 people were affected in Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and in the worst hit island nation of Vanuatu.

Red Cross has reached 36,000 people across the Pacific with emergency relief, and a further 33,000 people will be targeted in recovery operations over the next two years. This includes some of the worst hit communities in Vanuatu, Tanna Island and the vulnerable and isolated Shepherd Islands. Regionally activities will support low lying, outer island atoll communities.

New Zealand Red Cross aid worker Hanna Butler who was deployed immediately after the cyclone, returned to Vanuatu this week.

“Three months ago I was struck by the resilience of people here and today their resilience is still striking, as they continue to clean up, rebuild, help each other and try to get on with life.

“I revisited people whose homes and lives had been destroyed. I met Enia at a Red Cross relief distribution, a few days after the cyclone. She had fled her home with only what she could carry – her children. Her home was flattened and its contents damaged or swept away,” Ms Butler says.

“Life is getting back to normal. My kids are back at school and my husband has returned to work. The tarpaulins meant we could rebuild part of our house for temporary accommodation and I have replanted my vegetable garden,” Enia says.

Red Cross recovery activities will provide communities, like Enia’s, with the materials and training they need to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Rebuilding will focus on training communities in safe shelter awareness to ensure they are less vulnerable to future disasters.

Red Cross will also enhance early warning and disaster preparedness through community training, contingency planning and the restocking of emergency supplies.

But despite the colossal efforts of local people to rebuild and recover, their resilience is about to be tested once again as the dry season looms large on the horizon, Ms Butler says.“Pacific Islanders are experienced in managing water shortages during the dry season, but the damage caused by Cyclone Pam means that their coping mechanisms will be pushed to the limit. Red Cross will be working to ensure people’s water sources are protected and strengthened,” Ms Butler says.Red Cross recovery activities will also include a focus on water and sanitation support including the rehabilitation of rainwater harvesting systems and latrines, the provision of water tanks and promotion of good hygiene practices to curb the spread of disease.

In Vanuatu an estimated 68 per cent of rainwater harvesting catchment structures have been broken, 70 per cent of wells have been contaminated, and piped water systems damaged. According to the Climate Division of the Vanuatu Meteorological Service (VMS) the dry season is defined as running from May to October, with August usually being the driest month.

New Zealand Red Cross has raised nearly $2 million for the Tropical Cyclone Pam appeal from generous donors, corporate partners and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

For further information or interviews contact:

Hanna Butler

Communications Manager, New Zealand Red Cross

Email: Hanna.Butler@redcross.org.nz 

Mob: +64 27 836 5529 

Twitter: @hannarosebutler