Humanitarian response team ensures safe delivery of emergency supplies following volcanic eruptions, Vanuatu

  • Our humanitarian team bring urgent medical supplies by boat including vaccinations, antibiotics and contraceptives to remote communities living on Manaro Voui Volcano on Ambae Island.
    Our humanitarian team bring urgent medical supplies by boat including vaccinations, antibiotics and contraceptives to remote communities living on Manaro Voui Volcano on Ambae Island.
  • The team hiked for hours along the volcano's mountainside to reach remote communities.
    The team hiked for hours along the volcano's mountainside to reach remote communities.
  • The team prepare for the day ahead as they set up the mobile clinic.
    The team prepare for the day ahead as they set up the mobile clinic.
  • The community of Lovutialau is high up the steep sides of the Manaro Voui vlcano on the island of Ambae in Vanuatu. IPPF teams have set up a mobile clinic in the community, providing family planning and pre- and ante-natal services to women and girls.
    The community of Lovutialau is high up the steep sides of the Manaro Voui vlcano on the island of Ambae in Vanuatu. IPPF teams have set up a mobile clinic in the community, providing family planning and pre- and ante-natal services to women and girls.
  • The mobile clinic is busy with people attending from the local villages. The clinic is a welcome opportunity for many locals who usually have to travel for hours to reach the nearest health centres.
    The mobile clinic is busy with people attending from the local villages. The clinic is a welcome opportunity for many locals who usually have to travel for hours to reach the nearest health centres.
  • The mobile clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae.
    The mobile clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae.
  • "After the eruption we slept in this church for those two nights. We were the last group to evacuate," says Donneth. "Island women are afraid to talk about family planning because we are shy. Some people have as many as ten children here, it’s too much. I always planned to have four kids myself. Women who have as many as ten tell me it was by mistake, they often use the ‘calendar’ method as their only form of contraception.”
    "After the eruption we slept in this church for those two nights. We were the last group to evacuate," says Donneth. "Island women are afraid to talk about family planning because we are shy. Some people have as many as ten children here, it’s too much. I always planned to have four kids myself. Women who have as many as ten tell me it was by mistake, they often use the ‘calendar’ method as their only form of contraception.”
  • Gabriella has decided to have the implant, Jadelle, fitted at a mobile health clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae.
    Gabriella has decided to have the implant, Jadelle, fitted at a mobile health clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae.
  • "I came to this mobile health clinic today for my own needs, but as soon as I found out about family planning I rushed back to my house to tell my wife. I encouraged her to get it; she decided on the 'five-year stick' (Jadelle implant). We were actually looking for family planning options but didn’t realize there was this new method!" Isaac and Gabrielle already have four children.
    "I came to this mobile health clinic today for my own needs, but as soon as I found out about family planning I rushed back to my house to tell my wife. I encouraged her to get it; she decided on the 'five-year stick' (Jadelle implant). We were actually looking for family planning options but didn’t realize there was this new method!" Isaac and Gabrielle already have four children.
  • Kwevire came to the mobile clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae to get an antenatal check-up. This is her eighth pregnancy. “Today at this clinic I received medicine for my pregnancy, including iron tablets. Normally to access health care I have to travel far, it costs Vt2,000 for one trip in a truck, or a two-hour walk. Plus, I have to buy lunch for myself and my children as it’s a full day travel. Today has saved me that long walk. I am happy.”
    Kwevire came to the mobile clinic in Lovutialau, West Ambae to get an antenatal check-up. This is her eighth pregnancy. “Today at this clinic I received medicine for my pregnancy, including iron tablets. Normally to access health care I have to travel far, it costs Vt2,000 for one trip in a truck, or a two-hour walk. Plus, I have to buy lunch for myself and my children as it’s a full day travel. Today has saved me that long walk. I am happy.”
  • Staff talk to the local community about reproductive health and contraceptive choices.
    Staff talk to the local community about reproductive health and contraceptive choices.
  • Natalie is seven months pregnant. She lives with her son Johnson high up on the volcano's steep sides. The mobile outreach team visited her village and give vaccinations to her son. "When the volcano started to become active, we could hear the noise of the volcano erupting and see the smoke in the sky. We had to walk down the mountain to Lone, it took many hours," says Natalie. "After I deliver this child I want to get the ‘five-year stick’ [Jadelle]. It will make life easier.”
    Natalie is seven months pregnant. She lives with her son Johnson high up on the volcano's steep sides. The mobile outreach team visited her village and give vaccinations to her son. "When the volcano started to become active, we could hear the noise of the volcano erupting and see the smoke in the sky. We had to walk down the mountain to Lone, it took many hours," says Natalie. "After I deliver this child I want to get the ‘five-year stick’ [Jadelle]. It will make life easier.”
  • Esther, 31, and her six children live in Naqua, West Ambae. Their village is one of the closest to Manaro Voui Volcano. The family were evacuated after the volcano threatened to erupt. "When we returned yesterday from Santo, our home was covered in ash, even all our beds. It’s so dangerous for the children. My two-year-old son Stewart is disabled. It’s very hard with six children. I want the family planning so bad. I’ve known about it but I have never managed to get it."
    Esther, 31, and her six children live in Naqua, West Ambae. Their village is one of the closest to Manaro Voui Volcano. The family were evacuated after the volcano threatened to erupt. "When we returned yesterday from Santo, our home was covered in ash, even all our beds. It’s so dangerous for the children. My two-year-old son Stewart is disabled. It’s very hard with six children. I want the family planning so bad. I’ve known about it but I have never managed to get it."
  •    "I’ve never been taught about comprehensive sexuality in school", says Rosiane. "My mama told me a few things when I was about 12 years old – to stay away from boys during my period and about condoms. Even if I wanted to get them I would have to drive one hour to the nearest health clinic to get them. I want to work when I grow up, and move to Port Villa. I have decided I only want one child, it’s too hard to look after more.”
    "I’ve never been taught about comprehensive sexuality in school", says Rosiane. "My mama told me a few things when I was about 12 years old – to stay away from boys during my period and about condoms. Even if I wanted to get them I would have to drive one hour to the nearest health clinic to get them. I want to work when I grow up, and move to Port Villa. I have decided I only want one child, it’s too hard to look after more.”
  • The mobile clinic runs family planning and sexual health awareness sessions.
    The mobile clinic runs family planning and sexual health awareness sessions.
  • At a mobile clinic Jason, who is married with two sons, attended a family planning and sexual health awareness session. Afterwards, Jason chose to a take an HIV test and collected condoms. Jason says "the problem is people here don’t feel free to ask for condoms, we don’t get enough sexuality education in Vanuatu. Our parents tell us its taboo and don’t teach their kids how to protect themselves."
    At a mobile clinic Jason, who is married with two sons, attended a family planning and sexual health awareness session. Afterwards, Jason chose to a take an HIV test and collected condoms. Jason says "the problem is people here don’t feel free to ask for condoms, we don’t get enough sexuality education in Vanuatu. Our parents tell us its taboo and don’t teach their kids how to protect themselves."
  • "Rape is a big problem in Vanuatu in general, including on Ambae. If a young man likes a woman, he can feel like it’s his right to have sex with her and can force her. In rape cases, the chief is required to refer the case to the police. There are some cases of young girls walking to and from school and getting raped. Sometimes they keep it a secret due to shame. We have to teach young people about safe sex in school", says Pastor Solmon Aru.
    "Rape is a big problem in Vanuatu in general, including on Ambae. If a young man likes a woman, he can feel like it’s his right to have sex with her and can force her. In rape cases, the chief is required to refer the case to the police. There are some cases of young girls walking to and from school and getting raped. Sometimes they keep it a secret due to shame. We have to teach young people about safe sex in school", says Pastor Solmon Aru.
  • After the threat level of Manaro Voui volcano was downgraded, evacuated residents returned after one month in evacuation centres on nearby islands. However, their homes are covered in ash and the air is filled with smoke. The volcano rumbles, having not been active like this in the islanders' lifetimes, leaving many frightened.
    After the threat level of Manaro Voui volcano was downgraded, evacuated residents returned after one month in evacuation centres on nearby islands. However, their homes are covered in ash and the air is filled with smoke. The volcano rumbles, having not been active like this in the islanders' lifetimes, leaving many frightened.
  • Many families are rebuilding their homes and planting new crops after many were destroyed by the volcanic ash.
    Many families are rebuilding their homes and planting new crops after many were destroyed by the volcanic ash.

Toxic fumes due to seismic activity in Manaro Voui volcano, Vanuatu, forced the entire island population to be evacuated.

Once the threat level was decreased and the population returned, the Vanuatu Family Health Association, through the International Planned Parenthood Federation, commenced a humanitarian response with mobile health clinics and awareness sessions. The services available through the clinics included pregnancy and delivery support, contraceptives such as condoms, injectables, implants and emergency contraceptives, and screening and management of sexually transmitted infections.

Photography © IPPF/Kathleen Prior