Cyclone Pam not only caused huge devastation in Vanuatu but made calls to world leaders by World Vision to prioritise children’s needs when dealing with disaster risks that much more important. The leaders had gathered to attend the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan where it was found that many proposals were put forward.
World Vision a first responder
Amongst the first responders to the crisis in Vanuatu were World Vision emergency shelter and logistics staff who made their way to the island of Tanna. The emergency responders were part of a global mobilisation of aid workers to provide assistance to the disaster stricken nation. The workers joined their country based colleagues who faced immense struggles in their response to the needs of the survivors in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Wind speeds of 270km per hour caused disruption to telecommunications, water and power services as well as damaging buildings leaving 3,300 displaced and killing 24 people.
We need to think about the children
Richard Rumsey, who is director of disaster risk reduction for World Vision says that the storm should remind us of the vital need to provide protection against natural disaster and in particular there needs to be special focus on children’s needs.
“The loss of life and destruction wrought by Cyclone Pam underscores a simple but significant point. The threats posed by disasters are on the rise, and it’s children who are disproportionately affected when disasters happen,” said Mr. Rumsey.
The lesson should not go to waste
Mr. Rumsey called on world leaders not to let the lessons learned from Cyclone Pam to go to waste. Instead he says they should be the inspiration to make sure that the unique needs of children are taken into account with planning for disaster risk reduction. Michael Wolfe who is country director for World Vision Vanuatu said much the same thing adding that the organisation was extremely worried about the impact of the cyclone on communities and especially children.
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Initial surveys of Port Vila the capital of Vanuatu carried out by World Vision suggest the devastation is so bad that many aid agencies fear the worst for other remote islands that are inhabited on the 82 island chain. There have been 37 centres established to cater to those have been evacuated and World Vision has flown in aid supplies from Brisbane. The agency has launched an appeal for donations in the countries the agency operates in.