VMGD Recognised For Excellence in Disaster Response

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) has received an award for excellence in disaster response at this year’s New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) awards ceremony held in Wellington, New Zealand last month.

VMGD was awarded under the Best Practice Non Statutory category along with the Beca International Consultants Limited, GNS Science and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand for the work done under the Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction Project (MDRR) in Vanuatu.

VMGD, Beca International Consultants Limited, GNS Science and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research have undertaken an eighteen month Project focused on understanding and responding to natural hazards in the two urban areas of Port Vila and Luganville and their surrounding peri-urban areas. The Project expands the existing data on earthquake, flood, wind, coastal inundation and tsunami for these areas and applies this to planning and risk reduction activities.

A key component of the Project was the development and application of realistic science-based hazard models. Based on this modelling, risk maps were created for use by planners and other key stakeholders. Sitting alongside the risk mapping was an analysis of urban growth trends looking at how, where and why the two urban areas have and will continue to grow.

The risk mapping and urban growth trends were brought together to inform an Urban Risk Management Strategy identifying how the risk associated with each hazard can be significantly reduced using one or more of a number of available options, including risk-sensitive land use planning, development controls, improved education, and the use of early warning systems to trigger evacuations. The team advanced the response to tsunami risk with input into community developed evacuation plans, key messaging, community awareness initiatives and an early warning system.

The MDRR Project is a great demonstration of how planning and science can work together to provide integrated solutions to complex issues. It draws on New Zealand’s growing expertise in natural hazards to help Pacific neighbours and create more resilient communities into the future.

VMGD on behalf of the Vanuatu Government would like to thank its New Zealand partners in the implementation of the MDRR Project and also to the organisers of the NZPI awards for its recognition of the work done in Vanuatu. Vanuatu unfortunately was not able to attend the awards ceremony, but will officially receive the award in the coming months.


Caption: Representatives from Beca, GNS and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (VMGD was absent) with the awards