Field Ready-Vanuatu: Response to Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin
Updated: Mar 23
Field Ready designed and locally manufactured emergency latrines ready for distribution to evacuation centers
On March 2nd, 2023 a Severe Tropical Cyclone Judy passed through the islands of Vanuatu from north to south, entering the country as a Category 3 cyclone, and strengthening to Category 4 as it made landfall along six main and several smaller islands, including the capital city Port Vila. The storm’s destructive winds uprooted trees, damaged roofs and roads, and caused 500 displacements, and a total of 150,000 people were affected with no deaths reported. The number of damaged buildings closed schools, and affected medical facilities are not yet determined although it is estimated that more than 50 percent of houses were damaged in rural Efate Island while in urban Port-Vila, at least 20 percent of houses were damaged, and there were widespread power outages and internet reception disruption in the affected central Island of Efate, Shepherd Island, Epi, and southern islands of Erramango, Tanna, Aneityum, and Futuna.
With barely time to recover in less than 48 hours, a second Severe Tropical Cyclone Kevin was bearing down on the country passing through from northwest to southeast. Kevin also made landfall on the island of Efate as a Category 4 storm. This severely damaged Port Vila and continued south with major damage to the southern islands. Assessments to establish the extent of damage are still ongoing in the capital city Port Vila and throughout Vanuatu's islands. As it battled its second major cyclone in a week, the government of Vanuatu declared a 6-month state of emergency on Friday, March 3rd, 2023.
The twin cyclones brought into view the growing reality of climate-induced disasters faced by Pacific Island nations. Heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, and floods destroyed the WASH infrastructure. Field Ready’s work in the South Pacific involves the construction of infrastructure such as water tanks, pumps, latrines, and “Better Buckets” for easy access to reliable safe drinking water. The Field Ready team also educates the communities about good hygiene practices and how to operate and maintain the Installed WASH infrastructure for sustainability.
Field Ready’s Response
Field Ready Australia is coordinating the collection and distribution of donations to specific communities in Vanuatu in response to severe Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin a fortnight ago. There are four specific actions that we are supporting, and we invite interested individuals and organizations to contribute accordingly.
Field Ready’s WASH specialist Viliame Kaivei based in Fiji is supporting the government’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Emergency cluster in assessing and providing emergency sanitation. They have requested Field Ready to deliver and install 500 of our Field Latrines, a specialized product designed and developed for emergency sanitation in the Pacific Island environment. It is now manufactured in the region with partner Rotomould Ltd.
With the support of the New Zealand government, Field Ready is currently installing the first 100 emergency toilets for schools and community centers around Vanuatu where people are currently displaced. Field Ready partnered with Engineers Without Borders to immediately conduct a rapid on-the-ground training for 10 emergency responders from the WASH Cluster, on how to install the Field Latrines. A further 400 Field Latrines will be manufactured in Fiji in the coming weeks for communities during the rebuilding phase and will depend on additional funding support availability.
Tim Vosailagi Constructing one of the Field latrines to be delivered to the evacuation centers on Tanna island
The Field Ready regional team in Fiji is providing remote relief backup advice. It will deploy a 2-person team to Vanuatu with tool kits to assist in specialized repair and reconstruction of the water and sanitation infrastructure as identified from the needs assessments currently being carried out by the Ministry of Health.
Mafi, the Field Ready program coordinator for the pacific, said: “Attention to WASH is a fundamental priority for the community, not just during disasters like this one, but every day and everywhere. I am glad to note that Field Ready has been a driving force for WASH infrastructure and systems in the Pacific region and has provided technical support for over five years.”
Mobile repair and manufacturing facility (Mobile Makerspace)
Field Ready is also developing a custom-built mobile workshop on wheels that can be towed by 4WD or helicoptered into remote communities. It is fully set up with tools for repairing and constructing a wide range of items, including a 3D printer for rapid component fabrication. It will focus primarily on repairing water supply, and sanitation infrastructure, including manufacturing galvanized iron rainwater roof guttering for communities to start harvesting fresh water immediately. The mobile maker space is 3 months away from being ready. With $15,000 we could accelerate this process and have it ready in a few weeks.
The Leweton community is based in rural Santo. The women of the Leweton community are the custodians of the unique customary water music and have performed worldwide. Their gardens were destroyed by the cyclones and there is extensive damage to houses and village infrastructure. You can read about the community here: https://leweton.weebly.com. Assistance will help them with short-term food sustenance and rebuilding their gardens.
This small community organization is based in Santo owned and operated by the ni-Vanuatu people. They work with a community in Gaua to establish a shipping passage and wharf, a community center, and psychosocial support programs for the local community. Their current needs are principally related to water and sanitation - they have requested funds for a solar power pump, water tanks, roofing, and guttering for freshwater harvesting. Lokol Eyes was set up by Delly Roy Nalo: https://www.spc.int/70-inspiring-pacific-women/dely-roy-nalo
Field Ready has worked in the South Pacific for the past five years. Each year, we respond to disasters by providing locally manufactured relief items primarily related to WASH. We also focus much of our efforts on local innovative disaster-preventative solutions to prepare communities for disasters, especially weather-related and other natural hazards such as volcano eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Our activities in the Pacific region are made possible with support from the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance through our project Rapid Response Manufacturing in the Pacific.
The initial assessments indicate Shefa and Tafea provinces are the worst hit by the cyclonic winds, affecting 150,000 people and potentially impacting WASH services. Field Ready still requires more support and partnerships to respond to the disaster in Vanuatu effectively.
The Tropical cyclones have affected the existing hygiene behavior practices in communities. If safe water access is not prioritized, the overcrowded evacuation centers may create chances for disease outbreaks, including spreading waterborne diseases. The cyclones impacted the WASH facilities and infrastructure; therefore, the ability of people to sustain hygienic practices has been significantly affected.
Some of the Field Latrines are ready to be delivered to the evacuation center on Tanna island
Ravulo, the Field Ready Program Manager for the Pacific Region, said, “The latrines provided by Field Ready are very effective sanitation systems because they isolate human excreta from the surrounding environment and prevent the transmission of diseases. In addition to improving sanitation, the latrines are cheaper, quicker to install, and easier to clean.”
In Vanuatu, Field Ready is a registered charity with DGR status. All donations are tax-deductible.
If you choose to donate and you wish to see your support directed to one of the specific actions listed above, please indicate this in your transaction reference or via email to: tommy [at] ethosglobal.org.au or luke [at] fieldready.org
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