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.
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”.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.