End of Mission Report: United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination Team (UNDAC) Tropical Cyclone Pam Vanuatu, 16 March to 04 April 2015
Description of Disaster and Consequences: Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam, a Category 5 cyclone, struck Vanuatu on the evening of 13 March at around 23:00hrs local time. The archipelago, consisting of more than 80 islands with a population of approximately 270,000 people, suffered widespread damage across all of its six provinces – Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa, and Tafea. Tropical Cyclone Pam’s eye passed close to Efate Island in Shefa Province, where the capital Port Vila is located, with winds at around 250 km/hr and gusts peaking at 320 km/hr. A total of 166,600 people were estimated to have been affected by the cyclone – more than half the country’s population. Shefa and Tafea were the hardest hit provinces. In Erromango Island, up to 90 per cent of shelters were wiped out, whilst in Tanna Island 50 per cent of shelters were destroyed. Food stocks were also destroyed and water sources destroyed or contaminated. Estimates were that 95 per cent of crops were destroyed in the affected areas, leaving communities food insecure. The limited number of deaths caused by the cyclone (11 recorded by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO)) is testament to Vanuatu’s strong early warning systems.
Overview of Initial Needs and Response: As soon as they were able, the Government of Vanuatu rapidly mounted an initial response to quickly provide water, food, shelter and heath interventions to the affected population. Supported by the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, the NDMO organized and conducted Initial Joint Rapid Needs Assessments in collaboration with UN agencies and NGOs partners deployed in response to the emergency. These assessments, based on NDMO key informant and visual assessment based methodology, confirmed urgent, life-saving, needs in the following areas: