Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Save the Children
21 days after TC Harold made landfall, the situation in the worst hit parts of Vanuatu remains dire.
150,000 people continue to be affected in the aftermath of TC Harold across Sanma, Malampa and Penama provice with Santo (and surrounding islands) and Pentecost being the hardest hit areas.
Save the Children estimates that around 70% of homes have been destroyed in Sanma, and in some communities not a single home is standing. This has forced people into crowded evacuation centres with extremely limited access to hygiene items and facilities.
Soap and hygiene items are in critically short supply as many families have lost all of their household items. The threat of Covid-19 makes this situation seriously worrying.
Leanne Harrison Save the Children International Programmes Manager said, “We know that strict hygiene practices and social distancing are crucial tools in the fight against Covid-19. When people have lost everything, including basics such as soap and personal hygiene products, and are forced to live in crowded conditions with others, it makes personal hygiene almost impossible. We are concerned that if Covid-19 gets a foothold in these communities, then virus transmission could be rampant.”
Save the Children has further concerns about the impact of food insecurity as food gardens have been completely destroyed in affected areas. Without the provision of emergency food supplies, there is a very real risk that malnutrition along with already high levels of stunting in children, could sharply increase.
Water supplies have been contaminated meaning there is little to no clean water for drinking, cooking or bathing, and increases the likelihood of the spread of waterborne diseases that are life threatening to children, particularly if they are already malnourished.
As pressures on communities take their toll, increased rates of domestic violence as well as violence against women, girls, and vulnerable people are being reported. Save the Children is requesting funding from the New Zealand Government to respond to increased rates of violence by providing community psychosocial support, and safeguarding training to establish reporting mechanisms. Along with installing solar powered lights at water sources and toilets to make these areas safer to use at night.
Save the Children is working to distribute household and hygiene kits and emergency food supplies to families. Although Vanuatu is yet to confirm a positive case of Covid-19, field staff are following Covid-19 guidelines to minimise any risk of spreading the virus if it is present but not detected.
Emergency pre-positioned supplies are critically low and supply routes are severely hampered by Covid-19 travel and border restrictions. Save the Children is working with the New Zealand and Australian governments along with local suppliers in Vanuatu to procure the urgently needed supplies that will be distributed as quickly and safely as possible.
Save the Children New Zealand is raising desperately needed funds to support children and their families who continue to be seriously affected in the aftermath of TC Harold. If Kiwi’s can contribute even a small amount, this money will go toward providing urgent food and hygiene supplies, donate here http://emergency.savethechildren.org.nz/cyclone-harold/
About Save the Children NZ:
Save the Children works in 120 countries across the world. The organisation responds to emergencies and works with children and their communities to ensure they survive, learn and are protected.
Save the Children NZ currently supports international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mozambique. Areas of work include education and literacy, disaster risk reduction, and alleviating child poverty.