Support from the local business network was critical in responding to Tropical Cyclone Harold in April 2020 in Vanuatu – the first country to respond to a natural disaster under pandemic-related border closures. The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) is a member of the global Connecting Business initiative, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative jointly supported by OCHA and UNDP. VBRC activated its preparedness measures, including telecommunications teams, to reconnect the islands after the cyclone, and it provided shipping and logistics services to support relief and recovery efforts.
VBRC also conducted an aerial, ground and marine assessment, and it worked closely with the UN and NGOs locally in support of the Government to supply over 35 tons of food and non-food items to 1,000 remote coastal households. VBRC was among the first stakeholders to arrive and deliver aid to some parts of the island of Espiritu Santo. Since then, VBRC and Oxfam in Vanuatu have been working on an unblocked cash programme to benefit vulnerable communities and support local businesses affected by the tropical cyclone and COVID-19. Over 190 local shops have been registered in the electronic cash payment system.
Vanuatu Business Resilience Council