Post-Pam: lessons learned for [German] development cooperation in Vanuatu and the Pacific A study commissioned by the Global Programme on Risk Assessment and Management for Adaptation to Climate Change
Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam was one of the worstnatural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. Thecountry suffered loss and damage to an extentthat vastly overwhelmed its own capacities. Astrong El Niño, in the months following the cyclone, actedas additional multiplier for existing development problems,especially with regard to water and food securityin rural areas. In many ways, the cyclone and its impactsreflect political, conceptual and operational challengesthat lie at the heart of the current debate on loss anddamage (L&D) and clearly illustrate the need for comprehensiveclimate risk management (CRM).TC Pam has been recognised as an opportunity to learnlessons and draw up recommendations for [German]development cooperation (DC) and its partners in theregion on how to address the issue of comprehensiveclimate risk management, including climate risk insurance.The objectives of this study were to identify thoselessons in order to inform Germany’s current and futureregional cooperation in Vanuatu and the South Pacificregion.This report gives an overview and socio-economiccharacteristics, disaster risk and CRM institutions andprogrammes in Vanuatu and the region and providesbackground on activities of German development cooperation.It further presents the main findings on lessonslearned from the response and recovery phase basedon a review of available documentation and a mission toVanuatu in October 2015. The last chapter details recommendationsdeveloped by the mission team.Climate change represents one of the greatest challengesfacing the South Pacific region. In response to thesechallenges, the Pacific is the first region in the world thatintegrates climate change and disaster risk managementinto a single overarching regional strategy. A number ofmultilateral and bilateral cooperation projects have beenagreed to support the region in these efforts, includingthe Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and FinancingInitiative (PCRAFI).Germany has been supporting Pacific island countriesthrough development cooperation for nearly forty years.Increasingly, GDC is taking systematic account of climatechange-related effects as well as countermeasures. TheCoping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region(CCCPIR) programme aims to advance adaptation toclimate change in various sectors in 15 countries. Duringits G7 Presidency, the German Government promotedInsuResilience, an initiative on climate risk insurance.TC Pam struck Vanuatu on the evening of 13 March 2015.While 11 people were killed during the storm, it is likelythat much greater loss of life was prevented by the highlevel of community preparedness, timely and accuratewarnings and community responsiveness. According tothe Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), TC Pam hadan impact equivalent to 64.1% of gross domestic product.The Government of Vanuatu appealed for internationalsupport to respond to the crisis. The GoV relied mainly ona post-disaster financing mechanism, with donor assistancerepresenting the most important source of funding.In spite of enormous logistical constraints, the initialresponse phase saw significant achievements.POS T-PAM: L E S SONS L E A RNE D FOR [GERMAN] D E V E LOPMENT COOP ER AT ION I N VANUAT U AND THE PAC I F IC 5The current situation in Vanuatu shows how two consecutiveextreme climate events can lead to a severe crisis ina society previously considered quite resilient. Althoughthe affected population immediately embarked onself-recovery, applying the ‘build back better’ principleis still a challenge. Looking beyond the current crisis, ithas furthermore become apparent that a comprehensiveapproach to DRM and CRM requires strengthening. Onthe other hand, integration and mainstreaming is makingpromising progress, and Vanuatu is leading a regional shiftin the way it integrates climate change and disaster riskreduction governance and implementation.The events surrounding TC Pam confirmed that Vanuatuis generally very well prepared for cyclones. However,with the vast majority of houses suffering damage, theyalso revealed the island’s limited capacity to mitigate theimpacts of cyclones. While response activities were quickand effective, it became obvious that the scale of theinternational response overwhelmed national capacitiesto absorb such assistance. A number of recommendationstherefore emerge on how to improve coordination andcommunication, and to ultimately ensure the sovereigntyof the GoV in such emergencies.Future challenges are centred on two pillars. For each ofthese pillars, this study identifies more specific fields ofactivity that will strengthen capacities in Vanuatu andthe region to further reduce climate risks and bettercope with loss and damage. The first pillar involves morecomprehensive assessment of immediate and longtermclimate risks at local, national and regional levelin order to further reduce climate-related risks. Fieldsof activity include support for further risk assessmentsand the ongoing DRM decentralisation process, furtherintegration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climatechange adaptation (CCA), mainstreaming into economicand sectoral planning, and the integration of earlywarning processes, especially downstream.The second pillar concerns financial resources forthe implementation of CCA and DRR activities anddisaster financing. Given Vanuatu’s particular circumstances,support should be directed to Vanuatu’s NationalImplementing Entities accreditation roadmap and to theestablishment of both a national trust fund for climatechange and disaster risk reduction and a small grantsscheme. DC can also assist in strengthening financialmanagement and governance. In terms of disaster financing,DC should explore options for climate change anddisaster risk-sharing schemes.