Lessons Learnt from Tropical Cyclone Pam for Tafea Provincial Disaster Committee


Executive summary

The people of Vanuatu are facing frequent natural hazards and a complex and changing environment. The United Nations University's 2012 World Risk Report identified Vanuatu as the country with the greatest vulnerability to natural hazards. In addition to large-scale and recurring hazard events, Vanuatu is now faced with more rapid and uncertain change related to the impacts of climate change.
Tafea province comprises five islands and while the largest island is Erromango, the most populated is Tanna. Some parts of Tanna and the other islands remain geographically, socially and economically disadvantaged, isolated and vulnerable to natural hazards.

CARE with funding from the Australian Government led the facilitation of a workshop for the Tafea Provincial Government to undertake a Lessons Learned of the 2015 Cyclone Pam emergency response in Tafea Province. The Lessons Learned workshop was held in the Tafea Provincial government offices in Isangel on 11 and 12 June 2015. The Lessons Learned workshop had the following objectives:

  1. To discuss how the Emergency Operations Centre worked well and what could have been improved in the preparation and response to TC Pam

  2. To make recommendations for improvement to the upcoming NDMO lessons learned workshop

In March 2015 Vanuatu was struck by one of the worst disasters ever experienced in the Pacific. Winds gusting up to 320 km per hour destroyed homes, infrastructure, crops and livestock and left more than half the population in need of emergency assistance. Tafea was one of the hardest hit provinces in Vanuatu The Provincial Government rapidly mobilised the Emergency Operations Centre two days prior to the cyclone hitting The EOC met daily for over a month and coordinated international assistance that was mobilized to Tanna, including French and Australian military resources, internationals agencies, Red Cross movement and Vanuatu Government resources. In the initial weeks, the PDC mobilised assessment teams to Tanna worked in conjunction with military assets to open roads and managed food distributions with WFP and operational agencies across Tanna island.

Participation at this workshop aimed to represent all levels of staff involved in the response across the Provincial Government. This included Provincial Government staff that were involved in running the Emergency Operations Centre, Area Secretaries from across Tafea, some select community and Community Disaster Committee (CDC) representatives as well as international stakeholders from INGOs, UN and other organisations The Lessons Learned workshop started with a brief timeline exercise, carried out to remind participants of main events, both internal and external to the Provincial Government. Following the timeline exercise, the facilitators managed a lessons learned exercise which discussed what went well and challenges both internally within the PDC and externally with other stakeholders including community, Area Secretaries, INGOs. UN Agencies and other Government Departments.

Lessons learned, recommendations and actions plans were all developed through group works and gallery walk. The first day focused on generating lessons learned within these groups. On the second and last day, the groups were asked to generate preliminary recommendations based on these lessons learned and the feedback provided by the other groups.