Powerful cyclone strikes Pacific island nations

By Elizabeth Stevens
Powerful winds and heavy rain from Cyclone Harold this week devastated northern Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. Oxfam

Climate change doesn’t pause for the COVID-19 crisis to resolve.

Oxfam and its partners are preparing a response to Cyclone Harold, a storm that passed through the Solomon Islands as a category 2 cyclone and made landfall Monday in Vanuatu at category 5.

The storm, said Elizabeth Faerua, director of Oxfam in Vanuatu, is believed to be one of the worst since Cyclone Pam devastated the country in 2015. “We are collaborating with our local partners and working with the National Disaster Management Office, provincial governments, and area councils to respond accordingly,” she said.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, but as in the Solomon Islands, the government had declared a state of emergency to avert the coronavirus crisis. In the wake of the storm, Oxfam will support local partners to distribute cash to hard-hit families.

As climate change intensifies cyclones around the world, Oxfam and our partners have been working to help communities in vulnerable countries prepare for the worst and adapt to the new climate realities. Read stories about our work to build community committees to address disasters and climate change in Vanuatu and to support women’s savings groups in the Solomon Islands that are preparing for emergencies.

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