Hitting when Vanuatu was already in a State of Emergency to manage COVID-19, cyclone Harold has led to a double emergency.
The powerful 200km/hour winds and torrential rain ploughed through the beautiful islands of Vanuatu leaving a path of widespread destruction. Houses were flattened and crops destroyed, leaving people homeless, hungry and fearing for their future. Seeking refuge, people crowded into churches and schools used as evacuation centres posing risks of COVID-19 transmission as social distancing and washing hands became a challenge.
Thankfully, cbm New Zealand supporters gave generously, and subsequently along with funding from the New Zealand government, cbm is partnering with the Pacific Disability Forum and local organisations of persons with disabilities. Together, with your support, cbm is advocating at disaster coordination meetings for equal access to food and basic needs and making sure all messaging around COVID-19 and disaster response activities is shared in accessible formats. cbm is also working with local disability service providers to ensure people with disabilities in harder to reach communities get the assistive devices they need. We are offering advice to other agencies such as World Vision, ADRA and TearFund, so that their responses include people with disabilities too.
The State of Emergency has been extended at least another 30 days. Water-borne disease is spreading, and shelter, water and sanitation remain priority needs. Our cbm response will make sure that persons with disabilities do not miss out on these life saving measures. Thank you for your prayers and supporting our Pacific neighbours.