New project in Vanuatu

Vanuatu ranks 4th in the Happy Planet Index and every year thousands of tourists visit the beaches and coral reefs. It is a tropical archipelago composed of more than 80 islands and a country where over 100 languages are spoken. Though Vanuatu enjoys beautiful scenery and weather, the people of this island-cluster have much to overcome, for the archipelago is a very risky place – in fact, it ranked highest in the WorldRiskIndex in 2015. Exposure and susceptibility to extreme weather events, lack of coping capacities, and lack of adaptive capacities all contribute to Vanuatu’s risk level. Sea level rise poses a particular threat, as the majority of the country’s infrastructure is located only a few meters above sea level. As climate change alters the risk landscape to both intensify old risks and create new ones, climate change resilience will be crucial for Vanuatu. Researchers at ISET are embarking on a new community resilience project in the country, and are excited to be working with the Red Cross to develop easy-to-understand, accessible community resilience training tools for community leaders and local governments.

The focus of this project is to improve resilience training tools at the community level. Our team understands that, while national and city-wide resilience efforts are extremely important, one must zoom in further — to the community level — to learn about the challenges of the most vulnerable people. Moreover, focusing on the community level allows researchers to learn about existing capacities and identify resilience-building opportunities of a local community, which is very valuable.

Several ISET associates will be traveling early in 2017 to pilot methodologies and training materials in Vanuatu. The project is funded by the Global Disaster Preparedness Center and hosted by the Red Cross. Our work will focus not only in Vanuatu but also in two Indonesian cities, Semarang and Ternate.

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