No To Favourism & The Unfair Distribution Of AID – CYCLONE PAM DISASTER

Rooftops on the road

Rooftops on the road

LIVES AFFECTED BY CYCLONE PAM

CYCLONE PAM left a trail of destruction and debris in Vanuatu, blocked roads, missing roofs, and damaged infrastructure. In just one night thousands of lives have been affected,

“for me, getting back to the livelihood as it was before the cyclone would take a year, or even more,”

confessed a victim standing inside his damaged house while looking up at the sky through where the roof of his house used to be.

Where the rooftop used to be.

Where the rooftop used to be

It is the same story everywhere, we used to see this type of situations only on international news, now we are the

international news. Schedules and plans for the government, the private sector and ordinary citizens have been affected, but will the attitude towards corruption change? If it does, will it be for better or for worse?

CONCERN ON RELIEF DISTRIBUTIONS

Speaking to several community leaders from SHEFA Province who came to town late last week, the leaders told Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) that they were concerned about the fair distribution of relief supplies, “our communities are short on water, most of our islands and communities lack the necessary sufficient facilities that can support families after a natural disaster, it is now more than a week and we have yet to receive any form of relief assistance while other areas have already received assistance”.

Relief supplies for Efate rural

Relief supplies for Efate rural

TIV is aware that the Shepherd islands and the Efate offshore islands have received relief supplies. Since Tuesday this week the relief distribution for North East Efate, North West Efate and North Efate have been carried out including Port Vila, a lot of relief supplies are also being flown and shipped down to the south.

It is without doubt that there are now a lot of assistance including funds, goods, manpower and materials for the affected lives and communities in Vanuatu.

Jerry cans ready to be shipped to the Shepherd Islands in SHEFA province

Jerry cans ready to be shipped to the Shepherd Islands in SHEFA province

THERE MUST BE NO NEPOTISM

Transparency International Vanuatu Acting Executive Director Douglas Tamara said that the distribution of relief supplies to the affected areas must be fair and based on assessment and reports.

Assessment Form

Community Assessment Form

“It is very important to fairly distribute the aid supplies coming into Vanuatu,” Mr. Tamara said.

“According to past experiences, there have been areas that were affected by natural disasters but were left out on aid supplies, politicians must not use the relief effort, especially the international relief supplies, for political gains,” Mr. Tamara said

“People who are conducting assessment and giving reports on affected areas must ensure they produce accurate and transparent reports. There must be no fraudulent reports or any nepotism intentions.”

INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL ASSISTANCE

The call for international assistance has been answered, tons of supplies and millions of vatu in aid has been pouring into Vanuatu. Countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, China, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a country that a lot of Ni-Vanuatu rarely know about, have responded well.

A few days after cyclone Pam, the Government of Vanuatu approved an amount of VT96million to purchase rice and to distribute to the affected areas.

Flying relief supplies to the affected islands

Flying relief supplies to the affected islands

Au Bon Marche, Vanuatu’s biggest supermarket, has donated five containers of rice to be distributed to the people, they have also assisted in transporting the bags of rice to affected communities in Efate rural.

The Chinese government has provided VT500million aid to the Vanuatu Government and to deliver disaster relief materials. $100,000 humanitarian assistance was given to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society.

Moreover, the New Zealand Government increased its aid to $3.5million and FIFA will make a generous US$200,000 contribution to the recovery effort in Vanuatu. Australia so far has provided more than $10million in relief funding supplies.

TIV is concerned about the distribution of the funds. It must be evenly distributed to the people in Vanuatu who are affected by cyclone Pam.

Shipping relief supplies

Shipping relief supplies

CONCERNS OVER THE EFFECTIVENESS  OF COMMUNITY ASSESSMENTS

Residents of Freswota Area have also been raising their concerns about how the rice is being shared amongst them.

Relief supplies for 15 days

Relief supplies for 15 days

There are two containers of bag rice currently located at the Freswota Park area. However, the bags of rice are being repacked into smaller plastic bags and shared amongst the residents who have been assessed.

Reportedly, each household is entitled to a 5kg of Rice, 1 canned fish, 1 canned beef, and 2 Maggi Noodles, expected to

last for 15 days before the second round of food can be dispatched. Also food and emergency aid are only distributed to those who have been assessed.

Furthermore, a resident of Freswota voiced his concern at the NDMO office about the speed of how the assessment was carried out in his area, he said that;

“they (the assessors) asked only a few fast questions before moving to the next household, also they were youths from other areas, we have leaders within each of our communities, why were they not utilized to perform this tasks? My concern is whether they were actually examining the damages and recording the number of individuals affected or were they just there for the sake of having numbers on paper.”

Every homes must be assessed and ensure they receive relief supplies. We cannot just look at a house and predict that the house is fine and does not need any assessments. No one should be left out on assessments.

People lining up to get their 20% of their contributions from their Retirement Account with the VNPF for the purposes of rebuilding their homes and lives after being affected by cyclone Pam.

People lining up to get their 20% of their contributions from their Retirement Account with the VNPF for the purposes of rebuilding their homes and lives after being affected by cyclone Pam.

Everybody is affected one way or another by the cyclone Pam. As we all know, the cyclone destroyed thousands of homes, took away lives, and damaged all the crops in the gardens, thus people have to eat food from the shop which is financially difficult for everyone to afford. Even in Port Vila a lot of households depend on their gardens, thus everyone has to be assessed fairly in both the urban and rural communities.

The first sight of sun light after the cyclone

The first sight of sun light after the cyclone

DUPLICATION OF COMMUNITY ASSESSMENTS

From observations, TIV proposes the need to update and re-design the community assessment process because there has been a lot of complaints about duplications, the same name appearing in 2 to 3 separate forms that have been submitted by different people.

Transparency International is calling on the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to fairly distribute relief supplies to all the victims of the natural disaster. Nepotism is discouraged and the distribution of supplies must be based on accurate assessment and reports.

Cyclone Pam damages

Cyclone Pam damages

Cyclone Pam damages

Cyclone Pam damages

TIV understands that family values run deep in Vanuatu that is why it can also be quite a challenge to being fair at times like this, therefore it is important to commit ourselves to fair sharing, transparent reporting, and honest individuals.

Transparency International Vanuatu would also like to acknowledge the assistance from the international community to help Vanuatu. We are willing to work closely with the National Disaster Management office to observe assessments and that relief supplies are distributed fairly.

TIV RESUMING NORMAL WORKING OPERATIONS

The staff of Transparency International Vanuatu have also been affected by cyclone Pam, half of the office is still not operational. The office has been closed for over a week but will be resuming normal working beginning next week 30 March. With the office closed for the past two weeks some of the staff have been doing voluntary work with the disaster relief effort at the SHEFA Provincial Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and utilizing the TIV Toshiba photocopy machine.

Transparency International will continue to work closely with the affected communities and the responsible authorities to observe the relief effort and to report on any unfair distributions.

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Pacific Youth Must Unite Against Corruption

BREAK THE CHAIN OF CORRUPTION


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OVER 30 YOUTH leaders representing 14 pacific island nations (Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) took part in the first ever Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption from 22 – 24 February at the Novotel Hotel, Nadi, Fiji.

Participants at the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption

Participants at the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption

The Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption was organised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Pacific Youth Council.

Vanuatu was represented by Kevin Henry (Transparency international Vanuatu), Prescila Meto (Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu), Mini Miliu (Youth Challenge Vanuatu) and Deffnie Thompson (Vanuatu National Youth Council), the Minister of Lands, the Honourable Ralph Regenvanu also participated in the forum as a presenter.

During the forum it was clear that corruption is a primary obstacle that needs to be addressed more effectively, it was also agreed that the pacific region needs to improve and to initiate more effective efforts by different institutions that are addressing corruption, as this could be instrumental in combating corruption right down to the grassroots level..

Protesting the brutal treatment of West Papuans

Protesting the brutal treatment of West Papuans

With regards to youth groups and advocates, it was emphasized that there is the need for more networking and the sharing of ideas regionally. For example, an anti-corruption tool that is being used in Vanuatu could be more effective in Palau while a program that is being implemented in Papua New Guinea would achieve greater success if done in Vanuatu, thus the sharing of ideas, contacts, tips, and support becomes a vital vein to a more competent and effective push to drive out corruption in each island nation, and to stand united in the region against corruption.

From the anti-corruption forum, the young leaders recognized there is a “limited, or no access to regional or country-specific data and policies relating to corruption (reflecting the need for evidence research based on corruption) due to lack of freedom of information and lack of innovation and independent media reports”, as stated in the forum outcome statement which is still in its draft stages.

It was also acknowledged that “difficulty with regards to sustainability of initiatives on anti-corruption such as youth movements against corruption due to lack of funding geographical isolations” creates a barrier to anti corruption efforts by active youth groups.

11043458_10204581445950291_9214734586042916812_oToday, the youth population in the pacific participate in all the sectors of society; they are police officers, pastors, to even becoming members of parliament. While some youth are fortunate to be awarded scholarships to study overseas, the majority of youth stay back. If you are lucky you can get opportunities to participate in local workshops, youth programs and even get a good job, but some unfortunate groups become vulnerable, and they participate in negative activities, involve in crime, allowing the society to regard them as deviants; a barrier to community development.

Youth from Vanuatu & PNG

Youth from Vanuatu & PNG

It is widely and commonly said that youth are the leaders for tomorrow, therefore it is important to note that whatever experience that youth go through during their upbringing will contribute a lot to how they will define, and present themselves when they hold high and important positions in the community, and nationally. Therefore more informal and local programs need to be developed to assist in promoting a good environment where young people are nurtured to avoid criminal activities.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has been offering such programs to young people across Vanuatu, through TIV’s Civic Education Program TIV has identified certain factors that continues to encourage young people to keep silent against bad practices.

Firstly, the lack of trust in the political system; TIV asked a young person if he voted in the 2012 general election, and this was his response,

“No, I did not vote, I did not want to waste my time on those candidates. Do you realise what is happening? They promised us ‘no more motions of no confidence’, and look what they have done,”

this statement speaks for a lot of young people, the lack of trust and broken promises creates an environment where uncertainty becomes fact, when young people look towards an uncertain political future they become vulnerable to certain negative practices. TIV has, and will continue to encourage active citizenship, because an effective democracy is the result of a participatory process, everyone has to be involved, even young people.

Secondly, the lack of understanding on citizens basic rights and duties; over the years TIV has delivered hundred of constitution booklets to young people, and in the process informing them of their rights, that if violated, are eligible to lodge their complaint or statement to the appropriate authority.

Transparency International Vanuatu is still offering the Civic Education Program to interested youth groups and communities, call 25715, or email transparency@vanuatu.com.vu to request a workshop or to share your comment. You can also find TIV on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/transparency.vanuatu