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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, 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.

In 2015, Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam was the second most intense tropical cyclone of the south Pacific Ocean in terms of sustained winds and is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. Some 15 people lost their lives either directly or indirectly as a result of Pam with many others injured. The storm's impacts were also felt, albeit to a lesser extent, to other islands in the South Pacific, most notably the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and New Zealand. A total of 166,600 people was estimated to have been affected by the cyclone – more than half the country’s population. Shefa and Tafea were the hardest hit provinces. In Erromango Island, up to 90 per cent of shelters were wiped out, whilst in Tanna Island 50 per cent of shelters were destroyed. The Prime Minister of Vanuatu and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Vanuatu launched a humanitarian response Flash Appeal on 24 March 2015, seeking US$29.9 million to ensure that initial support provided by the Government, donors and humanitarian partners can be sustained to cover the needs of affected people until 24 June 2015. OCHA provided support through the National Disaster Management Office.

The National Disaster Management Office is the government’s agency responsible for coordination of preparation and responses to emergencies and disasters across Vanuatu. Lessons learnt from TC Pam generated by the Government has been used to strengthen the country’s capacity to prepare for and respond to future disasters. These lessons learnt have also been widely adopted by other Pacific islands countries. OCHA on behalf of the Pacific Humanitarian Team, in 2017 launched Vanuatu’s country preparedness package (CPP) with the NDMO.

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.