PORT VILA, VANUATU (10 August 2022) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Vanuatu today signed grant agreements for an ADB-supported project that aims to address the needs of poor and vulnerable groups in Vanuatu affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while building their resilience to withstand further other external shocks in the future.

Vanuatu Minister of Finance and Economic Management Johnny Koanapo Rasou and ADB Deputy Director General for the Pacific Emma Veve signed the grant agreements today in Port Vila on the sidelines of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting. Japan’s Ambassador to Vanuatu Hirohisa Chiba witnessed the event.

The grant comprises $3.5 million for the COVID-19 Response for Affected Poor and Vulnerable Groups Project from the Asian Development Fund 13 thematic pool supporting the transformative gender agenda outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 5; $1.5 million from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific; and $250,000 from the Ireland Trust Fund for Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States.

“Since 2020, Vanuatu’s tourism-dependent economy has taken a hit from the combined hardships of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold,” said Ms. Veve. “This ADB-supported project promotes food self-sufficiency and economic recovery, with the aim of supporting communities by strengthening essential social services and protection, enhancing lives and livelihoods to rebuild and emerge more resilient from the dual disasters.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on Vanuatu’s economy and in particular on vulnerable groups,” said Mr. Koanapo. “We are thankful to our partners ADB, Japan, and Ireland in this project, which will provide a safety net to the vulnerable and help fund development activities critical for the recovery and sustainable long-term growth. This project is unique for Vanuatu as it empowers the vulnerable through knowledge. Vanuatu could use the experience from this project to develop other national projects to address the same goals.”

The project has two main components supporting the transformative gender agenda: food security and income-generating support delivered to poor and vulnerable households headed by women, and to implement multidisciplinary responses to gender-based violence (GBV). The project will target urban and peri-urban areas in Port Vila and Luganville.

Food security and nutrition assistance and income-generating support will be promoted through low-technology vertical gardening, food processing training, seed grants, and business coaching to at least 250 poor and vulnerable households (an estimated 1,200 household members) headed by women and will also benefit the wider community through awareness events in Luganville and Port Vila on vertical gardening, food processing, and using the Vanuatu Made campaign to develop and sell products.

GBV prevention will attempt to reach at least 15,000 young people through online prevention campaigns that will raise awareness among adolescents and their parents or caregivers of the need to prevent GBV. Other activities to address GBV will promote the need to engage in healthy and safe relationships, ensure sexual and reproductive health, and build confidence and leadership in GBV prevention. The primary beneficiaries for these activities will be at least 1,000 adolescent boys and girls.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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