Australia helps revitalise ageing infrastructure in Vanuatu’s tourist capital
14 February, 2013
Senator Bob Carr with Prime Minister of Vanuatu Hon. Sato Kilman and Mr Xianbin Yao, ADB Director General for the Pacific unveiling a plaque to officially launch the Port Vila Urban Development Project. Photo: Yohann Lemonnier / AusAID
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Senator Bob Carr is warmly welcomed to the new premises of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre by Mrs Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Centre. Photo: Graham Crumb for AusAID
During a regional tour of four Pacific island countries, Foreign Minister Bob Carr visited Vanuatu to launch a major project to improve the capital’s roads, drainage and sewage facilities—all vital to the country’s development.
Speaking from Port Vila on 13 February, Senator Carr launched the $39 million Urban Development Project, to be funded by Australia along with the Government of Vanuatu and the Asian Development Bank.
‘The capital city of Vanuatu is critical to the future of this nation’s prosperity,’ Senator Carr said in a speech.
Senator Carr noted that Port Vila accounts for three quarters of the country’s economy. ‘333,000 visitors a year come here [more than the population of Vanuatu] and some 60 per cent of them are from Australia.’
At independence there were only 15,000 people living in Port Vila. Today there are 60,000. This figure continues to grow at a rate of 4 per cent per annum, putting pressure on the roads, drainage and sewage facilities—affecting visitors and residents alike.
The ageing infrastructure also threatens the health and beauty of the city’s waterways, which are essential fishing grounds and water sources for residents as well as major tourist attractions.
The project will benefit around one-fifth of the population of Vanuatu on a daily basis by improving traffic management, pedestrian safety and public hygiene facilities.
Australia’s partnership with local organisations shows results
Senator Carr’s visit was also an opportunity to celebrate two long-term partnerships with local non-government organisations. These NGOs are testament to what Australian aid can achieve in partnership with local leaders and a vibrant civil society.
Senator Carr opened the new permanent headquarters for the Vanuatu Women’s Centre. The Centre is the only provider of counselling and legal services to survivors of domestic violence in the country.
Many women in Vanuatu live with the daily threat of violence—a recent survey showed 60 per cent of women experience violence at the hands of a partner, and more than one in five of these women are left with a permanent disability.
As well as supporting thousands of survivors of violence, the Centre runs awareness campaigns around the country aimed at reducing violence. Australia has supported the Centre for almost 20 years. We are committed to eliminating violence against women in the Pacific.
Senator Carr also visited the Wan Smolbag Theatre and Youth Centre. The reputation of this highly successful NGO extends around the region. Australia has supported Wan Smolbag since 2005, enabling it to create local theatre, film and radio productions on critical development issues such as corruption, sexual health and youth crime.
Senator Carr watched a local disability theatre group perform a hard-hitting play about the daily prejudices faced by people living with disability. He congratulated the actors on their moving performance, saying that it demonstrated the power of theatre to touch people’s lives.
Senator Carr also viewed the site where construction work is about to begin on a new health clinic run by Wan Smolbag. The current clinic is accessed by more than 6,000 clients a year who seek services that are affordable, confidential and targeted towards the needs of young people.
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Last Reviewed: 14 February, 2013