Cyclone Pam 1 year on: Vanuatu faces ‘double crisis’ as El Nino drought takes hold, CARE warns

ByCARE Australia March 12, 2016 0 comments

As Vanuatu marks one year since the biggest storm ever recorded in its history, the Pacific nation is now grappling with significant water shortages due to an El Nino driven drought.

Last year Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu with wind gusts of over 320km/h, destroying over 90 per cent of food crops and leaving 75,000 people homeless.

“Decimation is the only word for what happened in Vanuatu,” said Charlie Damon, CARE’s Vanuatu Program Manager.

“Crops were devastated and are yet to fully recover. On top of that people are now dealing with the consequences of a crippling El Nino drought. Here your food garden is your lifeline so people in Vanuatu are now dealing with an overwhelming double crisis.”

Ms Damon said while emergencies were always catastrophic for those affected they can also present new opportunities.

“People are starting to pay more attention to women’s roles in agriculture and growing food. After the cyclone, CARE supported women’s groups to establish seed and tool banks, and also supported local authorities to work closer with women famers.

“As a result, 61 women’s groups have formed and have started growing new things like peanuts to sell in the market for income. These women farmers have untapped potential and the capacity to significantly improve food security for their communities meaning they’ll be more resilient in the face of such disasters in the future.”

Since Cyclone Pam struck on 13 March 2015, CARE has provided:

  • 19,000 people with access to cyclone-proof building materials and training to build safer homes
  • 84 s of emergency food rations
  • 26 tonnes of food across 17 schools to support the children’s nutritional needs
  • 92 communities with access to clean water and hygiene materials like soap, toothbrushes and sanitary items
  • 36 women’s group with support to improve food security and livelihoods in their communities

is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.

To donate to CARE Australia’s El Nino Appeal go to or can call 1800 DONATE (366283)


For interviews with Charlie Damon in Port Vila contact Dylan Quinnell (+61 412 449 691)
or Sam Bolitho (+61 419 567 777)


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