TC Pam that devastates many islands in Shefa and Tafea Provinces in 2015 has given lessons to many people in how to do things resistible during future natural disasters.
For people on Tongariki Island in the Shepherds Group, all habits to search for refuge when a disaster strikes and to depend on someone else or government for assistance must stop. After the passage of Category 5 TC Pam, they set as priority a place to house them during cyclones.
They set up a committee they named ‘Erata Development Committee’ to help people on the island recover from TC Pam. As part of the development they targeted, all builders on the island put their efforts together to build a 20 x 9 meters house at their main village Erata in the western side of their island. All the community members contributed financially through fundraisings to make their dream a reality.
Erata Development Committee decided that the building, as the biggest concrete one on Tongariki, be used for multi purposes, and the whole community gave its blessing to the idea. The people put all their efforts to make the building serve their interests.
In good times, the building will be used as their main communication centre and they plan to equip it with a solar system and a tele-radio because the communication on the island is unreliable. Other services will be offered in the new building to the people. On bad times like disaster, the cyclone proof building can be used for people’s evacuation.
“These infrastructure is not big enough to accommodate all people from Tongariki but it is only the beginning of what we were thinking about. We will see how we can enlarge the house in the future following the increase of the population of our island,” John Obed from Tongariki told Vila Times.
All the joined efforts have reached a level that the building could not be completed due to the lack of resources, mainly in term of finance. Through Erata Development Committee, they sought for assistance and a local charitable organization decided to step in to offer its generous participation for the completion of the building.
The story of Erata Cyclon Proof Multi Purposes Building is another model of a community based infrastructure realised through the will and the unity of the people on a small island that once was entirely devastated by a Category 5 Cyclone. They want to prepare for the next disasters and to prevent situation where people become victims and have no place to live while they rebuild their homes.
John Obed said people from Tongariki also applied the same spirit of unity to elect their candidate Willie Saatearoto of Green Confederation to Parliament who is the current holder of Youth and Sports Development Ministerial Portfolio and also John Mark Ruben of Vanua’Aku in Efate Constituency.
Tongariki Community is the first one to supply recently three tons of local yams to the people on the northern islands devastated by TC Harold.
CAPTION: This new multipurpose building can be also used as evacuation centre during cyclones. Photo: John Obed