Vanuatu is a lush archipelago of more than 80 scattered volcanic islands. Its 246,000 people, the Ni-Vanuatu, have been spared the civil and political unrest that has affected neighbouring Melanesian nations but its economy is failing to meet the needs of an increasing and young population.
Agriculture, fishing, offshore financial services and tourism are the economic mainstays, yet 76 per cent of Vanuatu’s population live a subsistence lifestyle.
Rural areas are often remote and have limited infrastructure. Climate change threatens Vanuatu’s food security and the country is particularly vulnerable to cyclones and other disasters.
Rapid population growth has put pressure on health and education services, along with job opportunities. Budget restrictions mean there are not enough secondary school places — it’s not uncommon for children to finish formal education at age 10. Those who do secure a place at secondary school often find it too expensive to complete.
Employment choices for these young people are often limited to helping with domestic chores or working on small family farms. There is waning interest in farming as a livelihood and many head to the cities, adding to growing youth unemployment and placing them at increased risk of poverty.
Oxfam in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, Oxfam is training and supporting farmers to establish and grow small-scale market gardens and find new income opportunities. We are also providing people with safe clean water, sanitation and hygiene education and traning them in skills that will earn them a living.
Oxfam's partner organisations are helping farmers find niche markets, gain organic certification and learn new farming skills.
Too many young people are pushed out of formal education each year in Vanuatu. But with Oxfam's support, a network of small rural training centres is giving them new opportunities to learn and build a brighter future for themselves and their families.