Friday, 27 March 2015

Cyclone Pam: How you can help

Source: Pacific Institute of Public Policy, 2015
Rita Brien has taken the time to speak with us regarding Cyclone Pam, the damage and how she and others have gotten involved to develop a campaign to support the people of Vanuatu and provide assistance to those in need. Read about this and how you can get involved:

Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu on 13th March 2015 destroying infrastructure, homes and leaving thousands upon thousands of people homeless and without food, water or access to healthcare. Approximately 96% of crops were destroyed. This is devastating when you consider that roughly 80% of the Ni-Vanuatu food comes from the land.

Although stores in Port Vila are open, many locals do not have cash to buy supplies as their major source of income (tourism) is almost no-existent. People on the outer islands are facing worse conditions given the lack of infrastructure, transport and communications. Food, water and shelter are the main priorities but equally critical are sanitation and disease prevention. Vanuatu’s population is approx. 260,000. It is estimated that 75,000 people need shelter; 110,000 have no access to drinking water and many of the country’s medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed. The situation has moved from a medical emergency to a public health emergency.

International NGOs, UN agencies, militaries from UK, Australia, France and New Zealand, and hundreds of volunteers have all played a critical supporting role in ensuring the survival of over 130,000 vulnerable people so far. The World Food Program and UNICEF are assisting with the flow of food and other essentials into the country, and countless NGOs and aid organisations are supporting this monumental undertaking, but ultimately, the success of this endeavour rests with a small core of individuals in Vanuatu’s National Disaster Committee(1, 2). Local individuals and organisations have been making very public pleas across social media for financial donations:

“While donations of goods are appreciated, Vaunatu needs money, 30 million dollars, to be precise.”

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have launched a flash campaign to call for further international assistance, “the Government of Vanuatu says it urgently needs an initial investment of no less than US$29.9 million of financial aid to purchase goods and ship them to the most affected islands.”(3).

A GoFundMe campaign has therefore been created by a SPHPM staff member, Rita Brien, to raise money that will be transferred directly to the Pacific Institute for Public Policy (PiPP) – a registered charitable organisation, operating in Vanuatu since 2007. Rita’s brother is the Executive Director and Co-founder of PiPP, where staff collectively have decades of experience in local provincial government, aid, research, communications and community development. They therefore clearly understand the social, economic and cultural landscape of Vanuatu. They know where the money needs to go and will get it there quickly, without fuss or bureaucratic/administrative hold-ups. They will account for every cent, work through appropriate channels and report back in due course on expenditure. While this is not an official PiPP fundraising campaign, funds will be sent directly to them to disperse according to their local expertise and understanding of direct need.

If you would like to help by donating to this campaign, please follow the link:

While smaller, more localised donation routes like this are critical for immediate response and restoration, donations to Red Cross, UNICEF, Care Australia, etc. are also critical to ensure that this disaster is managed effectively long-term. Every donation counts.

Rita Brien's thank you:

To those who have already donated generously, be it via my campaign, others or through aid organisations such as Red Cross, UNICEF, etc., I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every cent counts right now. I have a personal attachment to Vanuatu and its people and am deeply affected by this crisis. I appreciate every bit of assistance offered.

Please contact Rita Brien at for further questions. 


(1) Dan McGarry, “Surviving Cyclone Pam”, Pacific Institute for Public Policy:, 23 March 2015.

(2) PiPP Staff, “Aftermath – Cyclone Pam”, Pacific Institute for Public Policy:, 20 March 2015.

(3) OCHA, “Cyclone Pam: US$29.9 million needed urgently to address most pressing needs”, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:, 21 March 2015.

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