Vanuatu aid boost backed

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MATT.TSO
@thenews.co.nz

Orchard workers in Central Otago are all for a scheme seeking to boost aid to Vanuatu.

Unicef, in partnership with the New Zealand Government Aid Programme, is matching every dollar given by the public to Unicef’s Vanuatu operations with $4.

Unicef and New Zealand Aid, which is part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat), have been working together to improve water and sanitation systems in Vanuatu.

Orchard worker Hilson Magekon, from Ambry in Vanuatu, said any boost in aid would be a good thing for his country.

Vanuatu had a developing economy and he was aware aid programmes like those run by Unicef and the New Zealand Government Aid Programme contributed to infrastructure in health, water and education, particularly in rural areas, he said.

People in Vanuatu, and Vanuatuans working in Central Otago, appreciated aid efforts, he said.

Infrastructure built by aid, and health and education programmes made tangible changes to the welfare of locals, he said.

“[Aid] is really important for growing our communities. When we have better education, things will begin to change.”

Unicef communications director Lachlan Forsyth said Unicef and Mfat had been working together to install and maintain water pumps in 31 communities on the island of Tanna.

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) programme aimed to achieve better access to sanitation and hygiene systems, and safe drinking water for locals, he said.

Unicef and Mfat had had an ongoing relationship for more than a decade and Unicef was happy to be working with them again on this project.

“You just have to see the work done on the ground in places like the Solomons, Fiji and Vanuatu. The relationship has been so good for so long it’s nothing but a positive and that’s why we keep working with them,” Mr Forsyth said.

While Mfat provided an overall direction and significant funding to the programme, Unicef’s expertise in working with locals was used to run the programme, he said.

Mfat supports a wide range of aid and development projects in Vanuatu, including education programmes and encouraging tourism and business, and has provided technical assistance in energy generation.

Total aid to Vanuatu, which is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes, through Mfat’s aid programmes in 2015-16 was $25.5million.

To give to Unicef’s Vanuatu operations or to find out more about them, go online to vanuatu.unicef.org.nz.