Guidelines developed to assist Disaster Evacuation

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has developed three guidelines to assist the nation during emergency evacuations: the Evacuation Selection and Assessment Guidelines, the Operation and Management of Evacuation Site Guidelines, and the National Mass Evacuation in Natural Disasters (MEND) Guide. The three guidelines were developed jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with technical assistance from Norwegian Refugee Council experts roster NORCAP, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and other partners.
These new guidelines allow the NDMO to accomplish a number of things, namely to improve Vanuatu’s disaster preparedness. Disaster officers are now using these guidelines to map evacuation centres throughout the country and widely used for the displacement tracking during the Cyclone COOK and DONNA this year . Cyclone Pam, which resulted in 11 casualties, brought to light the need for the nation to increase investment in disaster risk reduction and management.
The first of the three guidelines, the Evacuation Selection and Assessment Guidelines, delineate assessment criteria for selecting evacuation sites. These guidelines have already been utilised to identify, map, and establish a database of potential evacuation centres across the country. NDMO with its partners is in process of program design to initiate a countrywide assessment of identified evacuation centres to understand the required scope to achieve the minimum standards as set per the guidelines.
The Operation and Management of Evacuation Sites Guidelines, establish standards on how local authorities, area councils, and CDCCCs can manage evacuation centres during a disaster. It also provides procedures for planning and forming strategic partnerships with government line departments, UN agencies, non-government organisations, and civil society organisations in order to assess a building’s suitability to serve as an evacuation centre.
The third guide, MEND (final endorsement awaited), focuses mainly on mass evacuations in the case of a major volcanic eruption. It is supplemented by four companion guides for inhabited islands with highly active volcanoes – Tanna, Gaua, Ambae, and Ambrym – which will strengthen the nation’s disaster risk management capacity and provide technical guides and tools for provincial disaster response planners. The MEND Guide was developed with the assistance of IOM, OCHA, and UNDAC.
The three guidelines help fulfil the national aim to “provide evacuation centres in all vulnerable areas designed and constructed in climate-proofed manner,” as outlined in Section 1.1.12 of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy.
In line with the National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030 (NSDP), namely “The People’s Plan 2030”, the Government of Vanuatu is committed to developing a stable, sustainable and prosperous Vanuatu. This involves cherishing the diverse cultural identities of Vanuatu and supporting community resilience to adapt to the impacts of climate change, environmental hazards and disasters. To address this gap and to ensure the well-being of all Ni-Vanuatu people, the Government is developing a policy framework to support communities affected by displacement, stemming from both slow-onset disasters and sudden emergencies. The policy development process overall led by the National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (NAB), National Disaster Management Office is facilitating the policy development process, and International Organization for Migration (IOM –The UN Migration Agency) is providing technical support to develop the policy framework based on participatory consultations. This technical support has been made possible through the IOM Development Fund.