16.03.15

Plan Ireland on Standby to Respond to Cyclone Pam Devastation  

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Plan Ireland is on standby to respond to the strongest storms in living memory to hit the Pacific Islands.

Latest reports have described the utter devastation with smashed boats, washed away roads and reports of thirteen fatalities. Evacuation centres are sheltering an estimated 2,000 people, while there are also likely to be significant damage to crops which will create food security problems.

Plan has a disaster risk reduction programme which works through local partners on the ground in several islands in the region and is looking to respond through these existing channels.

As well as Vanuatu, Plan is extremely concerned about other islands, particularly Kiribati and Tuvalu where information on the latest situation has been difficult to establish.

Plan Ireland, CEO David Dalton said;

We are very concerned about communities we have yet to hear from in both Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Kiribati – a nation of barely more than 100,000 people endured a powerful storm surge that damaged houses and other buildings. The surge has disrupted access to clean water by contaminating wells with salt water. Also damaged are gardens and crops that people in Kiribati rely on for their daily meals and their livelihoods.

Heavy rains and winds and the powerful king tide also dealt some significant damage to a key causeway linking the two most populated islands of Kiribati. That means that food and water supplies are running low for a lot of people.”

Tuvalu saw heavy flooding on Friday throughout the weekend. Like Kiribati, Tuvalu has seen homes and other buildings destroyed by heavy winds and a storm surge, and many people are sheltering in the homes of relatives.

Tuvalu has also seen essential vegetable gardens and crops washed away, and we are yet to hear from people living on some of its outer islands.”

Plan’s initial response is likely to be rolled out in two phases.

The immediate response will re-establish portable water supplies, provide water tanks and containers and distribute health and hygiene kits. Plan will then seek to support back to school materials for children and provide seeds and tools for food security cultivation.

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