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  • Writer's pictureNicola Smart

What is PHA doing in Vanuatu to support cyclone-affected communities?

Updated: Apr 5

When the media reports on a national disaster die down, it is easy to forget the many people displaced and left homeless in the recovery phase. Partner Housing is working to address this issue in Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam, which struck in March 2015. Five years on, there are still those living in temporary settlements.

Ohlen Freshwin Green Living Community is a Vanuatu Government initiative to relocate local communities affected by cyclone PAM. These communities are scattered in the area and and some of them are living in informal settlements around Ohlen Freshwin site. Although they can remain to live in the area, most of them are living in sub-standard conditions. The Vanuatu Government secured the land and intended to subdivide this land for the local families.

In early 2018, Partner Housing Australasia and South Pacific Island Foundation met with the Vanuatu Government to discuss potential collaboration to develop Ohlen Freshwin site. During these meetings, we agreed on the key design principles and discussed community aspirations to guide the master plan for the site. In one of these meetings, a preliminary master plan showing a walkable community of 83 houses including a school, clinic, community building and a market was presented and agreed to be developed further as a base for Ohlen Freshwin’s future village master plan.

With the evolution of the design and planning for the area, the final version of the master plan manages to retain all the key elements of a walkable community with network of local streets and connected pedestrian links. The village is anchored with community spaces and public buildings such as a community market, local school and clinic/community building. The water conservation zone at the eastern edge of the site will be protected as a no-build zone, allocated for community sports and sustainable farming. Traditional customs and heritage are reflected throughout the design by clustered residential placement, lushly landscaped boundaries and vernacular architecture. Although this sustainable way of living may not be a habit initially, the design of the master plan facilitates simple adjustments to be incorporated into daily life. Shared facilities and paired common areas are also employed to promote social interaction and sense of community.

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