• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 272,000 Total population [?]
  • 231,000 People exposed [?]
  • 123,000 People in Need [?]



Tropical Cyclone Harold made landfall on 6 April 2020 on Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu’s Sanma province as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds over 215km/h.?

The cyclone directly affected more than 160,000 people, approximately half of Vanuatu’s total population. At least 4 people died in the storm. The northern provinces of Sanma, Malampa and Penama, home to several populated areas, including Luganville, Vanuatu’s second-largest city, were most affected.?

Across the affected area, homes, health facilities, schools, and crops were severely damaged. The number of displaced people and damaged homes is unknown. Satellite assessments indicate that 90% of buildings on the island of Pentecost (Penama province) were damaged. In Luganville on Espiritu Santo Island, as many as 70% of buildings were damaged. Much of the damage was caused by flooding as heavy rainfall caused the Sarakata River to rise eight metres beyond its bank.?

Vanuatu requested international assistance on 9 April to assist national agencies in meeting immediate needs including shelter, NFIs, protection, food, and WASH assistance.?

Cyclone Harold is the second Category 5 storm to hit Vanuatu in five years. In 2015, Cyclone Pam affected all six provinces, destroyed 90% of the buildings in the capital city Port Vila, displaced 65,000 people, and resulted in 600 million USD in economic losses, the equivalent of 64% of Vanuatu’s GDP. Repairs to homes and public infrastructure in most affected areas took more than three years and the country has only recently recovered from the financial impact of Cyclone Pam.?

Latest Developments


There are no recent developments. This crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.

To learn about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Cyclone Harold response, see the relevant paragraph below.

Key Priorities


Shelter: Approximately 21,000 households have been significantly damaged or destroyed. In Central Pentecost, 85-100% of homes sustained damage. The current stock of supplies in the country is enough to assist 80% of people in need, though only 20% have received shelter assistance nearly two months after the cyclone due to delays in response.?

Health: In Pentecost, reports suggest that 20% of the total population has been injured and 32 of 50 (64%) of health facilities in Sanma, Penama and Malampa provinces are structurally damaged and non-functional. Malaria is a particular concern and an outbreak has already occurred the affected province of Torba.??

WASH: Across the affected areas, municipal water pumps operate on electricity, which has been severely disrupted since the cyclone made landfall. Water infrastructure, including pipelines and pumps have been damaged.?

Information Gaps and Needs


Access constraints, including communications and transport disruptions, delayed needs assessments and resulted in numerous information gaps. Specific needs related to the following are unknown:

  • The total number of homes destroyed and people displaced.
  • The extent of damage caused to health facilities.
  • Disruption of agriculture production and the total number of crops that are damaged.

Humanitarian Access Constraints


Communications networks in Espiritu Santo, Melekula, and Pentecost islands were completely down for more than three days, delaying response and needs assessments.

Roads have been damaged and blocked by debris, especially on Pentecost Island and in Luganville, which is typically a hub for transportation. Deployment of humanitarian staff to the areas affected in south Pentacost, west Santo, and northeast Malekula is complex given the remote locations and limited infrastructure.

Restrictions related to the COVID-19 response in Vanuatu pose a challenge for humanitarian personnel coming from outside the country as well as imported goods, which are only allowed to pass through require a three day quarantine to ensure the virus particles are not on packaging.?


COVID-19 Impact


Vanuatu does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, though a State of Emergency was declared on 26 March to combat the virus. Curfews, physical-distancing measures, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all people entering Vanuatu were imposed. This State of Emergency has been extended until mid-June 2020.

Some restrictions were eased before Cyclone Harold made landfall, including internal travel restrictions for first responders and humanitarian workers already present in Vanuatu. Physical distancing measures were lifted to allow citizens to gather in emergency shelters. However, the government has stated that the mandatory 14-day quarantine for international workers and a 3-day quarantine requirement for imported goods will remain in place. This has caused delays for the international response to Cyclone Harold.?