4 March 2024 - Vanuatu

New food preservation project helps Vanuatu to prepare for future climate disasters – Save the Children

an 11 year old boy sits in his damaged school

An 11 year old boy pictured inside his damaged school following back-to-back tropical cyclones that hit Vanuatu in March 2023. Credit: Damian Mobbs / Save the Children Vanuatu

PORT VILA, Vanuatu 4 March 2024 - An innovative food preservation project in Vanuatu is helping families on the island prepare for future natural disasters following devastating twin cyclones a year ago, Save the Children said.

Back-to-back category 4 cyclones hit Vanuatu in March last year and impacted more than 80 % of the island’s population of about 320,000 people, causing widespread destruction to homes, buildings and food gardens and prompting the Government of Vanuatu to declare a six-month state of emergency.

Save the Children launched the food preservation project as part of its work supporting communities on the island who are vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis.

The project involves growing, harvesting, and exporting local fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish to Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila where modern food preservation technology has been used to transform these ingredients into shelf ready ration pack meals. 

The meals can be stored for two years ensuring the community can still access nutritious food even in the aftermath of future extreme weather events that may damage or destroy their crops.

Polly Bank, Save the Children Vanuatu Country Director, said:

“The fact that people in Vanuatu are still recovering from the twin cyclones a year ago is terribly sad and highlights the support still needed amid the worsening impacts of the climate crisis. It also shows that we must work with communities to increase their disaster and climate resilience so that they can prepare for future disasters.

“The launch of our innovative food preservation project will help prevent food shortages in the aftermath of a disaster that wipes out crops, which disproportionally impact children, including by exposing them to greater risk of malnutrition.”

Vanuatu’s recovery from the March cyclones was hampered by the early arrival of another cyclone season in October 2023. Tropical Cyclone Lola, the earliest Category Five Cyclone on record in the southern hemisphere and only the seventh pre-season cyclone since 1970, killed two people and again caused destruction.

Climate-induced disasters disproportionately impact children and young people, particularly due to disruption to education and psychosocial trauma associated with ongoing experiences of intensifying disasters.

Noa*, 11, who first spoke to Save the Children in the days after the twin cyclones in Vanuatu, said:

“I hate cyclones because they damage the environment, including our houses and gardens, as well as my school ... I am always worried whenever I see a dark cloud of rain over the sky.”

Vanuatu is already one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, and as the climate crisis worsens, scientists say tropical cyclones will become more extreme.

Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster READY Program, funded by the Australian Government, Save the Children is working with communities across Vanuatu to develop disaster preparedness plans and conduct drills to prepare for emergencies.

Save the Children in Vanuatu is also delivering the largest community-based adaption project ever delivered in the Pacific with the support of the Green Climate Fund, supporting climate-vulnerable rural and coastal communities through targeted community and local adaption activities in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

Save the Children has a long history of responding to emergencies in the Pacific and Vanuatu, ensuring we work alongside the Government of Vanuatu in the coordination of the response.




Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Global Media Manager (Asia): amy.lefevre@savethechildren.org

Joshua Mcdonald, Save the Children Australia: joshua.mcdonald@savethechildren.org.au

Mala Darmadi, Save the Children Australia: mala.darmadi@savethechildren.org.au


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