EU and Vanuatu sign EUR 6 million agreement to support food security of vulnerable populations

Mr Daniel Montilla Rubiales, Chargé d’Affaires, EU Ambassador to Vanuatu and the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, the Vanuatu High Commissioner in Suva, Nikenike Vurobaravu and Jean-François Fitou, Ambassador of France to Fiji.

A new agreement, worth EUR 6 million (around Vt700 million), was signed today between the European Union (EU) and the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu to improve food and nutrition security of vulnerable populations living in remote and isolated parts of the country.

A smaller part of the programme will strengthen the technical capacity of the Government to better coordinate support by development partners.

This support comes at a time when Vanuatu faces economic consequences due to COVID-19 global pandemic, amplified by the disastrous impact of TC Harold. Ensuring food and nutrition security becomes more essential than ever.

Vanuatu is one of the most natural disaster-prone countries and about 70% of Vanuatu’s population lives in rural areas where subsistence farming, fishing and production of cash crops are the main sources of livelihood. With the new EU support, Civil Society Organisation will promote sustainable production of safe and nutritious foods for vulnerable communities. Their action will complement the Ministry of Agriculture’s Overarching Productive Sector Policy, which is supported by the EU Vanuatu Value Chain (VaVaC) Budget Support programme of EUR 25 million (Vatu 3.2 billion).

While signing the new agreement at the EU Residence in Suva, the EU Ambassador to Vanuatu and the Pacific, Sujiro Seam said: ‘‘At a time when Vanuatu has to face the double burden of recovering from cyclone Harold and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, “Team Europe” is stepping up its support to Civil Society Organisations and its technical cooperation.

“This support is aligned on Vanuatu’s priorities, set out in the National Sustainable Development Plan.

“It complements the EU budget support for the development of agricultural value chains, which aims at strengthening food and nutrition security and rural livelihood. It contributes to the implementation of the European Green Deal, which remains a top priority for the EU and includes the development of smart food systems.”

In his brief remarks at the signing Ceremony, the Vanuatu High Commissioner in Suva, Nikenike Vurobaravu acknowledged the continued valuable support of the EU, at a time when Vanuatu is going through challenging times. Tropical Cyclone Harold has changed the basic food and nutrition security landscape, especially in islands that are directly affected by the Category 5 cyclone.

It is no doubt that the EU support will strengthen the capacities of Civil Societies organisation to promote the sustainable and climate-smart production of safe and nutritious foods in isolated areas as well as strengthening government’s capacity to oversee and coordinate EU development Cooperation in Vanuatu.

Lastly, the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu continues to appreciate its 36 years of healthy relations with EU, a relation based on the legacy of shared history, common values, economic and trade relations.