Vanuatu is made up of a chain of 13 principal and many smaller islands extending 850 km from north to south. It consists of rugged mountains, high plateaus, coastal terraces and offshore coral reefs with 35 per cent of its land above 300 m. Most of the population lives along the coast of the eight largest islands.

Common natural hazards include cyclones, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and sea level rises. Vanuatu sits on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' at the meeting of two tectonic plates, exposing the island nation to frequent earthquakes.

In support of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team (VHT) was established in late 2011 as a collaboration between Vanuatu based NGOs, the Red Cross, UN and government agencies. Coordinated by Oxfam with OCHA ROP support, it is focused on improving the coordination of humanitarian preparedness and response in support of government agencies in disasters. Government line ministries act in cluster lead roles in emergencies and VHT members act as co-leads. The VHT is recognized as a key coordination mechanism in Vanuatu and is also included in Government plans.

The VHT faced its first challenge in February 2013 when Tropical Cyclone Jasmine struck off the coast of Vanuatu’s Tafea Province causing damage to local agriculture and water supply. VHT members were mobilized in a joint rapid assessment team to assess the cyclone impact and make recommendations to government.

Vanuatu is still recovering from the severe impacts of TC Pam which destroyed water infrastructure and crops making the country especially vulnerable to El Niño-related drought. Food deliveries are already underway to 90 000 people who are suffering as crops fail to grow.  At least one child has already died in connection with the drought and more are currently being treated for malnutrition. Assessments are currently underway in drought affected regions of Vanuatu where they have been gathering data on food security, water and sanitation needs. Clusters have been activated, Emergency Operations Centres are open in both the provinces and the capital and a 12 month El Niño response plan is being finalized. For more information on El Niño in the Pacific visit: OCHA Pacific El Niño Hub 

Between 10 to 13 March 2014, Tropical Cyclone Lusi passed over Vanuatu as a Category 2 system. There were 10 confirmed deaths, four injuries, 149 people displaced and 117 houses damaged. Food security risks for a total of 4,687 households were identified in Penama, Malampa, Torba, Sanma and Shefa Provinces. With the support of the VHT, assessments were undertaken and a Humanitarian Action Plan developed.