SUPPLEMENTARY PRIORITIES AND ACTION AGENDA ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT FOR A SAFE, SECURE AND RESILIENT VANUATU

BACKGROUND
Vanuatu is under constant risk of hazardous events such as volcanic eruptions,
earthquakes, cyclones, tsunami, floods, storm surges, and fires; the associated economic
and social costs of disasters are always large. Communities, economic and social
development in Vanuatu will continue to be affected by such disasters unless disaster
risk reduction and disaster management (DRR&DM) are addressed by the whole
country at all levels and incorporated into Vanuatu’s Priorities and Action Agenda.
Vulnerability of local communities to disastrous events is increasing not only due to
increases in disaster events but also because of population growth and changing lifestyle
from largely subsistence to a more market based living with increased accumulation of
material goods, and infrastructure development.
In the light of recent regular disastrous events and increasing concerns over growing
vulnerabilities to disasters, the Government has made commitments under the Pacific
Plan to mainstream DRR&DM into all development decision-making in an effort to
reduce risk and strengthen the resilience of communities.
This is a huge challenge, particularly since this is taking Vanuatu into uncharted waters
of operationalising the Hyogo and Regional Frameworks of Action for Disaster Risk
Reduction and Disaster Management, endorsed by the Vanuatu Government and other
regional leaders. Vanuatu is one of the first countries in the world to systematically
implement the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Regional Frameworks of Action
for Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management and to develop its National
Action Plan for DRR&DM.
Disaster risk management comprises two main elements: disaster risk reduction -
prevention, adaptation and mitigation - and disaster management- preparedness,
response and recovery. An integral element of disaster risk reduction is the
considerations of risk to disasters across all sectors and in the national planning and
budgetary processes. Mainstreaming DRR&DM considerations into national planning
and budgetary process is identified as one of the key strategies under the Under the
Hyogo Framework for Action and the Regional Framework for Action for DRR&DM,
together with mainstreaming DRR&DM into decision-making processes across all
sectors and all levels of government and communities.
Vanuatu’s national planning and budgetary process is linked to its Priorities and Action
Agenda (PAA), which is an integration and prioritisation of action agendas contained in
Comprehensive Reform Program, Business Forum Outcomes and the Rural Economic
Development Initiatives (REDI) Plans. Vanuatu first produced a PAA in 2003 and its
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most recent revision, covering 2005-2007, provides a link between policy and planning
with the limited resources the government controls. The 2005-2007 PAA has been
endorsed by the Council of Ministers and outlines the most urgent and important
outcomes of these programs that will be targeted in the medium term.
The PAA 2003 summarised the refined national development policies, which was
endorsed by the Council of Ministers (COM) and the Development Committee of
Officials (DCO). The Prime Minister during the CRP summit of November 2002
announced Government’s commitments to the following priorities:1
1. Improving governance and public service delivery by providing policy stability
& fiscal sustainability via a strengthened law-enforcement and macroeconomic
management capacity and a small, efficient, and accountable government;
2. Improving the lives of the people in rural areas by improving service delivery,
expanding market access to rural produce, lowering costs of credit and
transportation, and ensuring sustainable use of natural resources;
3. Raising private investment by lowering obstacles to growth of private enterprise
including lowering costs of doing business, facilitating long-term secure access
to land, and providing better support services to business;
4. Enabling greater stakeholder participation in policy formulation by
institutionalising the role of chiefs, non-governmental organisations, and civil
society in decision-making at all levels of government; and,
5. Increasing equity in access to income and economic opportunity by all members
of the community. Specific areas of focus include: enabling universal access to
primary education by school-age children, universal access to basic health
services, and inducing increased employment opportunity for those seeking
work.
In 2005, the Government, recognising that the current PAA does not fully address
disaster risk reduction and disaster management issues and challenges, requested the
SOPAC/PIFS/UNDP/World Bank Partnership to help develop a supplementary PAA on
DRR&DM, as a compendium to the current PAA, 2005-2007. This draft supplementary
PAA focuses on an additional strategic priority of, ‘Safety, Security and Resilience’,
of the Vanuatu Government. It is, however, emphasised that disaster risk management
is a cross cutting issue that affects all walks of life, as well as all development priorities
1 There was no reference to natural hazards or disasters in a country that is especially prone to such
hazards, nor any mention of the need to protect the people from harm, either from natural hazards or
criminal activities.
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and programs. As such, DRR&DM considerations need to be reflected in the national
Vision, Medium Term Strategic Framework and the Strategic Priorities2. These changes
are included in this supplementary PAA, together with a detailed strategic priority on
‘safety, security and resilience’.
It is, however, emphasised that disaster risk management is a cross cutting issue that
affects all walks of life, as well as all development priorities and programs. As such,
DRR&DM considerations need to be reflected in the national Vision, Medium Term
Strategic Framework and the Strategic Priorities. In addition, changes need to be also
made to all the chapters of the PAA to fully reflect that disaster risk management is a
development issue and as such needs to be fully considered in all areas of development.
The current Chapter 9 on Infrastructure, with changes to reflect DRR&DM
considerations, is attached as an annex 1 to illustrate the types of changes that may need
to be made to all the chapters in the current PAA when next revised. When the current
PAA is revised next, the supplementary PAA on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster
Management for A Safe, Secure and Resilient Vanuatu’ will be included in the revised
PAA together with changes to other chapters 3.
The supplementary PAA also identifies key policies and high priority strategies
required to increase community safety, security and resilience to disasters using general
principles articulated in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management
Regional Framework for Action 2005-2015, the World Bank Policy Note (Not If, But
When….) and the Pacific Plan, adapting them to meet the specific conditions in
Vanuatu.
This supplementary PAA was prepared in tandem with the Vanuatu’s National Action
Plan for DRR&DM, which provides a detailed program of action for addressing the
national priorities on DRR&DM. Thus, these two documents must be considered as a
package when considering DRR&DM actions for the country.

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