On 7th January 2020, we read the report that the World Bank has approved a contingency fund of US$10 million to support Vanuatu and its programs to strengthen disaster resilience, climate adaptation support and help debt management.
Vanuatu, one of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, is prone to natural disasters and the consequences of climate change. In 2018, 11 thousand people have been displaced from Ambae Island, one of its many islands due to the eruption of Manaro volcano (Vanuatu launches national, 2018).
Sudden and slow-onset disasters are becoming the new norm of life not only in Vanuatu but in of all Pacific Island nations (Vanuatu launches national, 2018).
When Cyclone Pam hit in 2015, it wiped out 64.1% of its GDP amounting to $US 449.4 million. The country is growing desperate for financial assistance to deal with this increasing loss and damages due to climate change and natural disasters, that it is considering suing fossil fuel companies and countries for their contribution to climate change. Countries like Australia supporting the fossil fuel industry that causes ravaging loss and damages to their own nation yet will not contribute to their country’s protection and adaptation costs Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu’s foreign minister said. Regenvanu added that Vanuatu is facing huge costs in trying to adapt and prevent the impacts of climate change (Cox, 2018).
On 26 September 2018, Vanuatu launched its National Policy on Climate Change and Disaster-Induced Displacement, with the support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Development Fund (Vanuatu launches national, 2018)
The policy is a roadmap to mitigate disasters that will arise but with a strategic focus and clear plans from the institutions and governments down to the sectoral areas like housing, education, and nutrition. The policy will be a guide when disaster strikes so they can prepare, plan, and respond to short-term and long-term displacements due to disasters and climate change (Vanuatu launches national, 2018).
The year 2020 has opened another opportunity for Vanuatu to strengthen its climate adaptation and resilience to natural disasters. The US $10 million support from the World Bank will be activated in the event of major disasters and will support reforms that will deliver a strong mitigation and prevention actions in Vanuatu. It will also shift the focus of its disaster risk management system from response and emergency to a greater emphasis on risk reduction, climate adaptation and longer-term recovery (Major Boost for Disaster, 2020).
This support has already led to the creation of the country’s new Disaster Risk Management Act and the National Land Subdivision Policy, a risk reduction and climate adaptation approach for land developments across Vanuatu. For example, growth around the capital Port Villa and Luganville has led to a higher number of people exposed to hazards and risks to disasters. The World Bank through its financial support, would help improve services around these areas, build measures to reduce the loss of life and damage in the event of disasters (Major Boost for Disaster, 2020).
The World Bank has now three active projects in Vanuatu including this $US10 million grant and the Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project, which will be completed at the end of 2019, a total of US $55 million covering the transport and energy sectors, and climate resilience and adaptation projects.
This funding came from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries (Major Boost for Disaster, 2020).
Vanuatu launches national policy on climate change and disaster-induced displacement. (2018, September 28). PreventionWeb. Retrieved from https://www.preventionweb.net/news/view/60924
Cox, L. (2018, November 22). Vanuatu says it may sue fossil fuel companies and other countries over climate change. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/22/vanuatu-says-it-may-sue-fossil-fuel-companies-and-other-countries-over-climate-change
Major Boost for Disaster Risk Management in Vanuatu. (2020, January 9). The World Bank. [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/01/09/major-boost-for-disaster-risk-management-in-vanuatu
PHOTO CREDIT: Wolfgang Reindl