Vanuatu’s risk-informed resilient towns

Representatives from Pacific Island countries and development partners met at the Pacific Urban Forum (PUF) in Suva from September 5th – 7th, 2023, hosted by the Pacific Urban Partnership and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, to discuss a sustainable urban future for the Pacific.

The Vanuatu Government showcased the work being implemented in addressing vulnerable informal settlements and how they are integrating them into the urban environment in Port Vila through the bilateral World Bank-funded Vanuatu Affordable and Resilient Settlement project. They highlighted the risk-informed Town Plans developed for Lenakel and Lakatoro. These plans incorporate the asset and infrastructure data collection that informs resilient investments and sustainable urban expansion for the two townships and look at the urbanisation challenges in Vanuatu.

The Director-General for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr Leith Veremaito, reaffirmed that with Vanuatu being ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries, it is important to develop resilient communities. He stated, “The informal settlements in Port Vila play an important role in socio-economic development. There are innovative steps taken to integrate them into the urban setting and provide access to basic services. The approach taken by the Government to develop risk-informed town plans, including acquiring lidar and asset data, will support orderly urban expansion and resilient development.”

He added, “This approach falls in line with Government policy, and we have started discussions in Government and with development partners to secure funding for some priorities identified in the Resilient Investment Plans. There has been a positive interest from partners at this meeting with regards to what we are doing in Vanuatu.”

The Acting Director for the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP), Mr. Jeffrey Kaitip, further stated, “The asset and infrastructure collected is valuable for risk financing strategies (including urban planning) to mitigate risks, it is already being used by Government for property tax.” He acknowledged the support provided by SPC in building capacity within DUAP. Their team will be in Santo next month to collect asset data for urban planning and follow the same approach for all urban centres.

The SPC implemented Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative II (PCRAFI II) and Pacific Resilience Project (PREP), funded by the World Bank, has been supporting the Vanuatu Government in collecting asset and infrastructure data. They have also assisted in developing concept town plans, including resilient investment plans for Lenakel and Lakatoro to inform resilient investments. The SPC PCRAFI II team also supported DUAP to collect asset data for Port Vila and will be in Luganville in October 2023 to continue this support. Both projects are implemented through the SPC Geoscience, Energy & Maritime Division and are working with a total budget of USD 12 million.

For more information, please contact:

Eileen Turare, SPC's Project Manager - Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment & Financing Initiative, [email protected]

George Beck, SPC's PREP Project Manager, [email protected]

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Geoscience, Energy and Maritime