UNSWERV – UNSW Énergie Renouvelable Vanuatu

Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam, in March 2015, is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters ever in Vanuatu and Tanna Island, in the province of Tafea, was particularly hard hit.

Medical and communication services, already much less available in remote villages, are increasingly scarce and challenging in and following a natural disaster. Injured people and imminent mothers cannot easily reach support services if and when needed and even if support workers are available, darkness can prevent them from being as useful as they could be. Our project addresses both communications and lighting needs for dispensaries in remote villages without electricity.

SPREE students have been active on Tanna Island since 2007/08 a group of second-year students visited to install roof gutters, rainwater tanks and solar lighting at the school on the village of Louen, in the hills above the main town of Louen.

Most recently, in April 2016, fourth year student, Xiaowei (Todd) Shen and his thesis project supervisor, Dr Richard Corkish, worked at dispensaries in two remote villages. In Imaki, in the far SW coast of the island, they collaborated with the villagers to relocate and upgrade the solar photovoltaic power supply for the lights in the tiny dispensary, the only medical support for hundreds of residents of Imaki and the surrounding villages. There should now be reliable supply through each year.

Next, they worked with the people of Iakuaramanu, in the shadow of the (gently) erupting volacano, Mt Yasur, to install a new solar lighting and mobile phone charging system at the local dispensary.

They also planned for the next SPREE journey to Tanna, hopefully in January 2017, by inspecting the cyclone-damaged vaccine refrigerator power supply at Imaki and the dispensary lighting system at the southern village of Ikiti, which failed when a tree was blown down in the roof by Cyclone Pam. The team of 5-6 fourth-year undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students hopes to support the local people to fix these problems and to return to Louen to repair and improve the system there, installed in 2008. They will also tackle another dispensary, yet to be selected.


Donations are welcome and are tax deductable

The group is investigating various potential sources of funds for the equipment and travel expenses. Donations are welcome and tax deductable through Donate@UNSW . Please put “Vanuatu Development Student Project (PS20997)” in the box for “I want to donate to…” on the form.

If you want to know more, please contact Dr Richard Corkish: r.corkish@unsw.edu.au or +61 (0)2 9385 4068.