Vanuatu

Vanuatu: Mt. Ambae Volcano - Information Bulletin n° 2

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 1 83 countries.

In Brief

This Bulletin (no. 02/2005) is being issued for information only, and reflects the status of the situation and information available at this time. The Federation is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this ope ration at this time.

The Situation

Mt. Ambae volcano continues to discharge steam, ash and sulphur gases into the air since it first erupted on 27 November 2005 and has displaced thousands of the Ambae island's 10,000 strong population, which is located north of the Vanuatu archipelago. The displaced are spread out in 17 emergency evacuation centres across the island, ranging from about ten people per camp to nearly 800 (please see table in the next section for a list of people per camp).

In Ambae, the local population relies on wells or tanks to collect rain water as there are no rivers or streams in the island. Water is therefore a high priority in this emergency situation, and such a shortage can potentially lead to outbreaks of health-related issues. Risk of contamination is also high if water supplies are not protected appropriately. The provincial authorities have tried to mitigate potential outbreaks by creating health posts at each relocation centre.

There has been a series of small quakes on 10 December. Scientists have also established the formation of a second vent that is pumping up to 10,000 feet of steam into the air, while the first continues to pour ash into the summit's crater lake, Vui. The level of volcanic activity remains unchanged at level 2.

A national disaster management office meeting has been held in Port Villa on 19 December 2005 to discuss findings and long-term options for resettlement. For now, chances of evacuation seem low.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

To date, Red Cross and Red Crescent action in support of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS) has consisted of water and sanitation support as well as relief. The Red Cross has been seen as one of the leading agencies providing humanitarian assistance to people at the centres. Relief provided by the VRCS, Federation and its partners include:

  • Family kits
  • Water tanks
  • Tarpaulin
  • Organizing and shipping water from Port Vila to Ambae
  • Providing cooking utensils for the centre
  • Providing appropriate information of humanitarian needs to provincial coordinating committee
  • Registration of relocated people

Assessments in the 17 emergency centres (please see table below) around Ambae have also been conducted by a New Zealand Red Cross (NZRC) water and sanitation delegate and a disaster management officer from the Solomon Islands Red Cross (SIRC). Majority of camps are located in schools and problems may arise when schools reopen in six weeks.
#
Relocation Centres
Male >16yrs
Female >16yrs
Children 1-16yrs
Baby <1yr
Special Needs
Total
1
Arorongo
26
16
10
3
55
2
Nanivele
30
29
57
7
5
121
3
Namboe
25
26
40
2
2
95
4
Lovunivili
28
22
44
1
1
96
5
Longana
25
32
31
5
1
94
6
Narontambe
14
12
16
5
1
48
7
Quirutaro
10
9
12
31
8
Lolopuepue
145
122
147
16
430
9
Ambaebulu
48
61
87
1
197
10
Lovusi
18
8
13
39
11
Vureas
20
29
41
90
12
Saratamata
59
56
48
163
13
Torgil
248
239
270
17
774
14
Loviundau
3
4
5
1
13
15
Wailengi
21
25
50
6
2
104
16
Londua
118
113
214
23
8
476
17
Navuturiki
117
96
210
21
1
445
total
3271
Table 1: Number of people in each emergency centre on Ambae. These figures were collected two weeks after the relocation.

Out of the 17, three to four centres have been prioritized as needing ongoing assistance and management support, which include Torgil in East Ambae, as well as Londua and Navutiriki in West Ambae.

In Torgil, the assessment team has found that there are insufficient sanitation facilities and water supply for the 700 odd people in this camp. Although there are a number of empty centres nearby, many seem reluctant to move.

However, updates on 21 December 2005 indicate that an undisclosed number of people have begun moving to the nearby centres, thereby easing the overcrowded situation. More pit latrines have also been dug in Torgil. Rain in East Ambae is sufficient for the population's drinking needs.

In West Ambae, the Red Cross is concerned about camps in Londua and Navutiriki. Centre inhabitants are running out of water because of low water moisture levels in the west. While drinking water is being shipped in, the inhabitants are using sea water for washing and in their other daily routines. There have been some logistical constraints delaying the transport of water containers to the western part of the island, which have been resolved for now. The Vanuatu Red Cross Society is also shipping 8 x 200 litres of water to West Ambae with more to follow, along with spades , shovels, extra large cooking pots and plastic bowls for washing hands.

To ease water woes west of the island, the VRCS will deliver a desalination unit funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID) to the Nduidui area. The unit will have the capacity to provide 3,000 litres of water per day – enough for drinking and cooking at both emergency camps in West Ambae. It will remain on site until an adequate water supply for the people is available. There is a health clinic in Nduidui.

Only one out of the six boreholes around Ambae has water because of the dry climate and basalt rock terrain. The borehole has not been operational however since cyclone Ivy in 2003, and the Federation and VRCS are looking into rehabilitating it as soon as possible.

Two varieties of water testing kits have been donated or funded by AUSAID and the World Health Organization (WHO) and have been provided to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society, supported by the Federation. The first, Delagua coliform kits, will require training from the NZRC water and sanitation delegate to operate and maintain, which will be given to nominated persons. The second are 100 H2S paper testing kits, which are easier to use and will be distributed in Ambae with the appropriate health education.

Distribution of more family kits in Ambae is being constrained by statistical and logistical issues, but is expected to resume soon. The VRCS and other Red Cross staff/delegate in the operation remain in close contact with the regional delegation.

Recommendations and plans

The Red Cross has identified some possible gaps and areas for further or continuous action during the course of the emergency operation:

  • Carry out recommendations to fulfill water and sanitation needs

  • Maintain monitoring of the camps' situation and continue provid ing information

  • Move some people from Torgil to other empty camps

  • Monitor health situation and plan for health promotion

  • Dig additional latrines in West Ambae, Torgil and other centres with large population

  • Red Cross field personnel to develop their own action plan

  • Continue providing weekly situation reports to VRCS national office to address immediate needs

  • Improve coordination and planning on the ground.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Vanuatu Red Cross Society: email: redcross@vanuatu.com.vu, phone: +678.27418; fax: +678.22599.

Federation regional delegation in Fiji: M s Rea Noponen (acting head of regional delegation); email rea.noponen@ifrc.org phone: +679.3311855; fax: +679.3311406.

Federation Secretariat in Geneva: Ms. Hyun Ji Lee (Pacific r egional officer, Asia and Pacific department); email: hj.lee@ifrc.org; phone: +41.22.7304260; fax: +41.22.7330395.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org