Vanuatu - Overview

The regulatory framework for disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management in Vanuatu is provided by the National Disaster Act 2000 and the Meteorology, Geological Hazards and Climate Change Act 2016. The Meteorology Act sets out the framework for forecasting and hazards. It establishes the National Advisory Board (NAB) for disaster risk reduction which is tasked with advising on the development of strategies and policies for disaster preparedness and risk reduction.


The Disaster Act establishes the National Disaster Committee (NDC) and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). The NDMO is tasked with coordinating disaster response, developing a National Disaster Plan and National Disaster Support Plans and managing the National Disaster Emergency Centre. The NDC comprises the Chief Executives of key government departments and is tasked with advising the responsible Minister on all matters relating to disasters. It also acts to provide oversight of the NDMO in the implementation disaster policies and strategies. Under the Act, the NDC has the function of developing strategies and policies, however in practice, this is undertaken by the NDMO. Under the Disaster Act, the President may declare a State of Emergency upon the advice of the Council of Ministers.


The National Disaster Act 2000 underwent review in 2016 in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam. Comprehensive recommendations for amendments have been submitted to the State Law Office and a new Disaster Risk Management Bill 2018 is expected to before Parliament this year (2019).
The Republic of Vanuatu is a Parliamentary democracy with a President as head of state. The President, who exercises primarily ceremonial powers, is elected for a five-year term by a two-thirds majority of an electoral college consisting of Members of Parliament and the Presidents of the Provincial Councils. The Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government, is elected by a majority vote of Parliament. The Prime Minister, in turn, appoints the Council of Ministers which acts as the executive branch. The Parliament of Vanuatu is unicameral and has 52 members elected by popular vote for a term of four years. The Malvatu Mauri (national Council of Chiefs) is elected by district councils of chiefs and advises the government on all matters concerning Ni-Vanuatu culture and language.


Vanuatu is divided into six provinces each headed by a President elected by and from the directly elected Provincial council. Provinces are responsible for a variety of local services including primary and pre-school education, primary healthcare, regional planning, roads and tourism. Three municipal authorities are responsible for these matters within the urban centres. These are headed by Mayors, who are appointed by the directly elected municipal councils. In both cases a provincial secretary/town clerk is appointed by the Public Service Commission to manage the local administration and assist the President/Mayor.


The provincial government is advised by the local Council of Chiefs in Ni-Vanuatu culture and language. The Provincial President is a member of the Electoral College that elects the President of Vanuatu.