Oxfam builds cyclone shelters in Vanuatu
Sunday 23 Dec 2012 1:57 p.m.
With cyclone season in the Pacific Islands already causing huge destruction across Samoa and Fiji, other island nations are preparing for the constant possibility of summer storms.
Vanuatu is one country that knows all too well the ferocious force that can suddenly afflict their lives.
In the small village of Lorakau on Tanna Island the locals live a modest way of life, and the construction of their traditional flax huts is simple. It is all they can afford, and chief Tom Noam says they stand no chance against a full-strength cyclone.
“It really blows down every house and there is no shelter and you can see some of these houses here, very old,” he says.
In 2004 Lorakau Village was wiped out by Cyclone Ivy and it took a year for the community to rebuild. Communication to the mainland is difficult as the roads are largely unsealed and slow-going. It is a similar story for many rural areas of Vanuatu.
There is now more chance of survival for the people of Lorakau. Money raised by Oxfam NZ for a cyclone-proof shelter provides safety for as many as they can fit inside.
Mr Noam says that locals feel a lot safer knowing they will be protected in the event of severe cyclones.
“We really feel safe when we see that permanent building,” he says.
And the permanence of the building could ensure the permanence of his village.