Cyclone Pam – three months on: Red Cross recovery teams intensify efforts to provide survivors with access to safe water as dry season looms

Published: 12 June 2015
The Red Cross' focus will include water and sanitation support, the provision of water tanks and promotion of good hygiene practices. Photo Credit: Becky Webb/IFRC

Geneva / Suva – 12 June, 2015.  Three months after Tropical Cyclone Pam swept across the Pacific, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is intensifying its efforts to ensure communities have increased access to safe water during the regions dry season.

Over 200,000 people across five Pacific Nations countries were affected when Cyclone Pam struck the region on March 13th, wiping out homes, destroying rainwater catchment structures and contaminating local water sources. Vanuatu was the worst affected country but Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea were also badly affected.

“While people in remote island communities are experienced in managing water shortages during the dry season, the damage caused  by Cyclone Pam means that their coping mechanisms will be pushed to the limit”, said Aurelia Balpe, IFRC Head of Delegation for the Pacific.

“As we head into the peak months of the dry season, we must ensure that communities’ water sources are protected and strengthened”, she continued.

The Red Cross has reached 36,000 people with emergency support over the last 3 months and future recovery efforts will target an additional 33,000 people. They will include a focus on water and sanitation support including the rehabilitation of rainwater harvesting systems and latrines, the provision of water tanks and promotion of good hygiene practices to curb the spread of disease.

In Vanuatu an estimated 68 per cent of rainwater harvesting catchment structures have been broken, 70 per cent of wells have been contaminated, and piped water systems damaged. According to the Climate Division of the Vanuatu Meteorological Service (VMS) the dry season is defined as running from May to October, with August usually being the driest month.

Since the cyclone struck, the Vanuatu Red Cross Society, supported by IFRC, has been supporting local communities as they try to rebuild their lives by providing much needed relief items including tarpaulins, hygiene kits and water containers. Despite the colossal efforts of local people to rebuild and recover, their resilience is about to be tested once again as the dry season looms large on horizon.

In addition to improving access to safe water, over the next two years Red Cross recovery activities will also provide communities with the materials and training they need to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Supporting communities to build resilience will also be prioritised through health education, hygiene promotion and first aid trainings. ENDS

Note to Editors

The IFRC has raised CHF 5.9 million for its cyclone Pam operations. The appeal targets a total of 69,221 people in Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea over 2 years.


For further information or interviews contact:

In Vanuatu

  • Hanna Butler (as of 9 June)
  • Communications Manager, New Zealand Red Cross
  • Email: Mob: +64 27 836 5529 / Twitter: @hannarosebutler 

In Suva:

In Kuala Lumpur:

In Geneva: