Getting life-saving supplies to those in need after Cyclone Pam

The devastation left by Cyclone Pam has triggered a huge and complex logistical challenge to ensure life-saving supplies get to children and families in need. Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are made up of numerous islands – Vanuatu alone has 83 – and some can take up to six days to reach. This is why UNICEF has quickly set-up storage facilities in Vanuatu to ensure supplies that enter the country can quickly get to the children who need them the most.

Getting supplies into a country and rapidly to those in need quickly is critical. “Logistics in emergency situations is very important, especially in UNICEF’s work,” said Thomas Ziraguma, UNICEF’s logistics expert. “The new storage facilities in Port Villa and Tanna [southern Vanuatu] will ensure we’ll have a quick turnaround of supplies when they come in.”

UNICEF’s logistics team and community volunteers spent the day constructing a large temporary warehouse with partners that will house life-saving supplies. The ‘logistics hub’ was set-up in Port Vila airport, meaning the supplies can quickly be organised and dispatched without delay and get into the hands of families and children quickly.

 

UNICEF and volunteers building the logistics hub, a temporary
warehouse to store supplies © UNICEF PACIFIC/2015/McGarry

 

Shipments of vaccines, health supplies, education kits and tents are already ensuring 1000s of children are protected against disease and able to access clean water. More supplies are on its way to help the thousands of people affected by the cyclone in the different Pacific islands.

Emergency supplies have arrived in Tuvalu and Vanuatu and others are on a ship bound for Kiribati. With all the different islands, it’s been a  challenge said Thomas. “It is complicated because there are so many islands and we’re having to use many different modes of transport. This also makes it a very expensive operation.”

UNICEF has already dispatched $2 million dollars-worth of supplies to affected families. “Getting the logistics right in emergencies is very important, especially if you look at all the education kits, water and sanitation supplies and the vaccines we’re sending,” said Thomas. “The supplies are flowing in now and more will be coming.”

Funds are needed for more supplies and transport. Help UNICEF support the thousands affected by Cyclone Pam:  http://www.supportunicef.org/cyclonedonate

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