The Future is Equal

Archives for May 3, 2017

Oxfam monitoring Cyclone Donna: latest news

UPDATE: 12:00pm 09/05/2017

An update has been sent out from Oxfam’s regional office in Vanuatu.

The worst affected people are those in the Torba province. Oxfam in Vanuatu have decided to partner with the Vanuatu Red Cross and distribute Oxfams’ hygiene kits and seeds to get crops going again.

A response focusing on the Shefa province could go ahead. If required, Oxfam could be able to provide or assist with the following:

  • Provision of clean water, hygiene kits, hygiene educatoin workshops and assistance with the rebuilding of water sources
  • Cash vouchers to ensure people have a means of getting food
  • Livelihood recovery support
  • Ensuring all community members are safe and have access to service, especially women, youth, people with disabilities and LGBTI+
  • Promoting equal decision making between women and men
  • Supporting our five local partners

UPDATE: 8:30am 09/05/2017

TC Donna has weakened to a Category 4 storm overnight.

It continued on its south-easterly path. The country’s capital, Port Vila, felt some affects although wasn’t majorly impacted.

According to Radio New Zealand, TC Donna is packing winds of around 265 kilometres per hour, and hospitals in Vanuatu are preparing to receive anyone who may have been injured during the cyclone.

UPDATE: 2:00pm 08/05/2017

TC Donna has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm. 

A cyclone warning is current in Sanma, Penama, Malampa and Shefa provinces.

Red alerts are current for Sanma and Malampa provinces, a yellow alert is current for Shefa province, and a blue alert is current for Tafea province. 

UPDATE: 1:00pm 08/05/2017

Late season Tropical Cyclone Donna is now a Category 4 storm. Heavy rain and strong winds are battering parts of the island nation.

TC Donna crossed Torres Island (population 800) in the Torba province as a Category 3 storm on Friday, gusting 203km/h winds.

Destructive winds are affecting Sanma, Penama and Malampa provinces, and Shefa province has been issued a yellow alert as heavy rainfall and damaging winds reach the area.

Some low-lying communities, including in the capital Port Vila, have been victim to severe flash-flooding.

A preliminary impact report from Oxfam in Vanuatu says that the northernmost Torba province is the most affected. Four islands in the province, Loh, Hui, Tegua and Toga, have been rapidly assessed and the initial findings are:

  • A significant number of houses are destroyed, and a majority are badly damaged
  • Almost everyone on Loh are in evacuation centres, which includes schools, a cave and a police station
  • On other islands, people were evacuated to strong houses
  • There is enough water for everyone, but it is likely contaminated
  • Of the communities contacted, all gardens were severly damaged
  • The food supply could be enough for two-three weeks
  • All toilet facilities have been destroyed
  • The health facility in Loh is functional
  • No injury or health issues reported

Currently, TC Donna is moving south over the ocean between Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and is expected to hit the south-east caost of New Caledonia tomorrow night at 6pm. However – the path of the system may change at any time.

Latest updates from Fiji’s Meteorological Service.

Thumbnail image: The current wind forecast map (GFS) showing Donna. Fiji east, New Caledonia south, Vanuatu south east of Donna. /

Shanine’s Poultry Farm

It’s not uncommon for children in Vanuatu to stop attending school at 10 years old – there are not enough secondary school places due to government budget constraints, and many families can’t afford the school fees. At whatever age these young people leave school, their job prospects are often very limited.

Oxfam has been partnering with Rural Training Centres (RTCs) and the Farm Support Association (FSA) in Vanuatu to give young people a chance at learning a variety of skills to make them employable, equip them to start their own businesses, and give them a good shot at earning an income.

Meet Shanine Natiang. She’s from Tanna, an island in southern Vanuatu. Her life was turned around in 2013 when she applied for the Vanuatu Young Farmers Development Course in the Napil Rural Training Centre.

Shanine’s primary level education was cut short when she fell extremely ill for several weeks. She eventually recovered enough to return to school, but decided against going back and to help her parents at home instead.

“I fell ill for some weeks so I did not want to go back to school after the illness had left me, I felt that I wasn’t learning much at school and it was a waste of time, so I chose to stay at home and help look after my younger siblings”.

In 2013, after some encouragement from her father, she applied for the Vanuatu Young Farmers Development Course and was accepted. She received training in horticulture and livestock management and learned the most effective way to produce sustainable and fruitful crops in her local environment. During the course she also gained valuable gardening skills in crop conservation, garden restoration and maintenance, and landscape garden design.

Poultry farming on Tanna is an increasingly popular small-scale business, and a lot of Shanine’s training involved learning how to farm poultry effectively to get the best results. She put her skills to use and started her own poultry farming business to earn an income to support herself and her family. After her first year of training she received 40 chicks, chicken feed, wire mesh and two tarpaulins from the Farm Support Association (FSA). She maintained her poultry farm and made VT60,000 by selling each rooster for VT1,500.

Shanine’s story is a success. She learned how to effectively maintain a sustainable business, and the training programme utilised the resources available in Shanine’s environment, creating a business that works in her local context.

Shanine is now able to support herself and her family, whilst still saving some money.

“Not all of us can be smart in primary and secondary schools. I may not be good at formal school but I am good in farming and gardening. I can now combine what I learned as I grew up with what I’m learning in the trainings. I feel like I now have a positive future.”

“I am young but I am thinking more maturely than my friends. While some kids my age are just hanging in the gardens, I’m learning how to make money from it.”

Shanine has set her goal to become one of the successful female poultry farmers in her village. Now in her last year of training, other young people in Shanine’s village are seeing her tremendous progress and they are eager to join the program. 32 other young women and men are enrolled alongside Shanine at the Napil RTC, and from 2017, Vaiduhu RTC on Malo Island will also begin offering the Young Farmers Development Course.

“I can’t wait to graduate. FSA and the Napil RTC has supported me a lot, I will use the resources and skills I’ve gained to build a good future for myself and my family. I am on my way to being a successful farmer and have no doubts that I will be one of the best on Tanna”.

Since Cyclone Pam in 2015, Oxfam has been helping to rebuild classrooms and dormitories in RTCs on Tanna, Epi and Malekula Islands. Many families in Vanuatu struggle to keep their children in school as it’s too expensive, but many RTCs in Vanuatu accept in kind payment with kava, pigs or cows rather than regular fees so more families can afford it. Through the courses at the RTCs in Vanuatu, students can learn practical skills such as health and sanitation, home economics, small business management, legal rights, agriculture, mechanics and carpentry – all skills that can ensure a better, bright future for these young people.

How you and Oxfam helped Fiji

Just over a year ago, on February 20th 2016, one of the most severe cyclones the Pacific has ever seen hit Fiji. Cyclone Winston had an average wind speed of around 230kph and affected 62% of Fiji’s population.

30,369 houses, 495 schools and 88 health clinics were destroyed, and 44 lives were lost.

But – thanks to you, Oxfam was able to respond immediately. And just over a year on, this is what we have achieved:

Photo: Alicja Grocz/Oxfam

Photo: (left) Alfredo Prado/OxfamAUS; (right) Alicja Grocz/Oxfam

In addition…

We constructed 234 single toilets and 24 other toilets attached to communal structures, as well as repairing 601 damaged ones. Drainage improvements were made, including the unblocking of drains and the removal of stagnant water.

Ilisoni (below), 28, suffered a stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair. His home was flattened by Cyclone Winston, forcing him to spend months living in the community hall before the people in his village could build a new house for him. Before the cyclone there was no bathroom near his house, so a family member would have to carry him to the nearest toilet.

Photo: Alicja Grocz/Oxfam

We conducted a series of community health worker training sessions which 240 individuals completed.

We restored water supplies:

  • 127 damaged water supplies were repaired
  • 75 tap stands were built
  • 53 showers were constructed
  • 38 new water tanks were built
  • 12 spring water sources were cleaned and are being protected
  • 25 rain harvesting systems and water mains were repaired in 24 communities
  • 76 affected communities and 4 schools received sanitation improvement works

“The tanks were constructed back in the days when I was still a student it worked only for one year and something broke down that remained unrepaired for the past 8 years, it took Oxfam a few hours to repair.” – Simione Koroicakou, Verevere community, Ra Province, Fiji.

“The community is now aware of the importance of Healthy Living in our community, the importance of wash, the caring of young children in the village, the cleaning of the village drain and the cleaning of our village at least every two weeks. The people have come to realise the importance of health and hygiene and of water treatment. The community has made good use of the water tank”. – Anasa Sevukiwai, 52 year old male, Raviravi Village.

Photo: Alicja Grocz/Oxfam

Oxfam’s Cyclone Winston response is earmarked to finish in June. Our main focus for these last few months are on enabling those affected by the cyclone to rebuild their livelihoods, access basic necessities and improve their access to services to ensure their long-term recovery.

This is your response as much as it is ours. You have reconstructed villages and provided people with life-saving aid. You have rebuilt lives and given people hope. You have set people up for a stronger future.

From the bottom of our heart – thank you.