Inclusive Climate-Resilient WASH in Vanuatu (ICR-WASH in Vanuatu)

Water for Women partners with World Vision and local partners to deliver ICR-WASH in Vanuatu — Inclusive Climate-Resilient WASH in Vanuatu, to reach an estimated 22,600* people living in Vanuatu’s two northernmost provinces of Sanma and Torba who are most vulnerable to impacts on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) from climate change, and to strengthen national, subnational and community-level systems to reduce vulnerability and improve gender equality and social inclusion for sustainable outcomes.


The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago nation, consisting of 83 islands, of which 65 are populated. Vanuatu is consistently ranked as having the highest risk and exposure to disaster in the world, including tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.[1] In any given year, the probability of a natural disaster happening in Vanuatu is 65%; this increases to more than 99% in a five-year period.[2] Climate change compounds these risks and increases the likelihood of damage and exposure for the entire population. Although observed and projected warming suggests that 2°C global warming relates to 1.3-1.9°C in Vanuatu, this increase will still have a profound impact, as high temperature extremes emerge faster in the tropics.

Of Vanuatu’s total population of around 319,000, 77% lives in rural areas, 64% within 1km of a coastline and 99% within 10km of a coastline,[3] making the population extremely vulnerable to the cascading effects of climate change on the oceans.

The national climate vulnerability assessment conducted for the Green Climate Fund confirmed that community and household structures and cultural practices in Vanuatu can result in higher vulnerability among some groups — particularly women, children, and people with disabilities. Discrimination and stigma towards women, people with disabilities and people from sexual and gender minority groups often prevents them seeking or accessing safe shelter during disasters.


a group of people with a banana boat at shore in a rural community in Vanuatu, we can see the sea and coastline in the background

A way of life — boat transport along the shore of Musina Village on Vanua Lava Island, Vanuatu. Communities in low-lying islands and coastal areas are increasingly threatened by saltwater intrusion of freshwater sources (World Vision Vanuatu)

Climate-related risks to water, sanitation and hygiene

In Vanuatu, two thirds of all households have unreliable water access and half the population only have access to basic sanitation.[4] During any given two-week period, more than one in ten children under the age of five are at risk of having diarrhoea and approximately one third are stunted.[5] 

UNICEF and the Global Water Partnership estimate that in small island countries like Vanuatu, incidences of diarrhoea will increase by 5% for every 1°C rise in temperature.[6]

People with disabilities are far more likely to be in the lowest and next-to-lowest household wealth quintile.

Communities in low lying islands and coastal areas are increasingly threatened by saltwater intrusion of freshwater sources, reducing the availability and quality of water for consumption and for meeting WASH needs, undermining community health and well-being and impacting food security and livelihoods.


Torba and Sanma are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Both areas have been exposed to El Niño, which impacts the intensity and occurrence of drought, and to La Niña, which brings increased rainfall and the risk of flooding and landslides.

A regional map of Vanuatu with Sanma and Torba provinces highlighted


“The Pacific region, including Vanuatu, is facing unprecedented challenges. Climate change and disasters due to natural hazards are already having an impact on people's daily lives. Climate change projections, even those within 1.5 degrees of global warming, suggest that Pacific Island countries are facing critical changes to traditional ways of life. World Vision is pleased to be able to continue working with the national and community partners with whom we've built relationships over the past five years to continue the important inclusive WASH climate mitigation work begun under the Water for Women Fund."

Kendra Gates Derousseau, Country Director, World Vision Vanuatu



ICR-WASH is being delivered in Torba and Sanma provinces to improve climate-resilient WASH for at-risk community members in Vanuatu. 

Building on World Vision’s Water for Women Laetem Dak Kona project, completed in 2022, from 2023-2024 this project aims to deliver lasting impact through:

  • Support to community WASH committees to model and upgrade existing WASH infrastructure — both community-wide and at evacuation facilities — to be climate-resilient and able to withstand the increasing extreme weather events, while incorporating the bespoke needs of the most vulnerable and at-risk groups
  • Improved gender equality and social inclusion in climate-resilient WASH planning and service delivery within communities and local institutions, with women, people with disabilities and people from sexual and gender minority communities contributing to climate-resilient inclusive WASH discussions, policy, planning and service delivery
  • Strengthened capacity of national and subnational WASH actors (including rights holder organisations, organisations of persons with disability) to employ adaptive management in response to new learning and evidence about climate-resilient inclusive WASH.


A young girl crosses her arms and smiles at the camera

Climate change will escalate risks and exacerbate impacts, particularly on vulnerable populations. In Vanuatu, we have recently witnessed this first-hand with multiple earthquakes and cyclones in quick succession. Inclusive water and WASH are critical connectors for resilience, equipping communities to adapt and respond to increasing climate hazards. WASH is a first response — an accessible toilet has helped Caroline (pictured) and her family manage their WASH needs in a safe and dignified way. Inclusive and equitable water and WASH supports improved community health and well-being and are foundational for building climate resilience. 

See more photo updates from our Vanuatu project

An orange graphic with white text saying 'Latest from project'
A close up of a child's hands being washed using a bamboo tippy tap - on the cover of a country summary thumbnail

This project is an extension of Laetem Dak Kona delivered from 2018 - 2022

Learn more

Sista is looking forward to working with important national partners like VSPD and VPride to raise awareness about the critical importance of access to good WASH for women, people with disability, and sexual and gender minorities especially in disasters which are only intensifying in the face of climate change."

Yasmin Bjornum, Executive Director, Sista


WASH-related climate challenges for this project

  • 45% of households in Torba and Sanma lack improved sanitation facilities.
  • Toilets are typically external to the house, making them prone to damage or destruction from cyclones, storm surges, flooding and landslides.
  • Rainwater harvesting is the most common form of water system, with unpredictable rainfall, temperature increases and increasing evaporation all threatening water availability and quality.
  • Torba’s low-lying islands are increasingly threatened by coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion of freshwater sources, reducing the availability of safe water.
  • Sanma is at increased risk of flooding due to its topography and the impacts of rising temperatures and rainfall variability.
  • People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by climate change impacts on WASH services and systems; Sanma and Torba have the highest rates of disability in Vanuatu.
  • At-risk groups require better access to and use of WASH before, during and after extreme weather events.


In Vanuatu, World Vision has been supporting people with disabilities and their caregivers with accessible latrines. Caroline and her mother, Lesline, are very happy with these changes! (World Vision Vanuatu) 


ICR-WASH in Vanuatu aims to reach the following beneficiaries by the end of 2024 :

Direct beneficiaries: 22,600*

  • women and girls: 11,074
  • men and boys: 11,526
  • people with a disability: 1,130

Indirect beneficiaries: 150,010*



water for women logo

World Vision logo

Sista logo
V-Pride logo

The Australia's development assistance program is investing in Vanuatu to achieve these outcomes. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with World Vision and partners in Vanuatu.


Feature photo: A child and village health worker stand and observe a tree that was previously surrounded by dry land before decades of coastal erosion and sea-level rise resulted in a rapidly shifting coastline and encroaching coral reef in Vatop, Vanua Lava, Torba Province. (World Vision Vanuatu)


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress.


[1] Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, World Risk Report 2021, BEH, 2021.

[2] C Dillon, Risky life on Vanuatu, DW (news article),17 March 2015, accessed May 2023.

[3] Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, Pacific Risk Profile: Vanuatu, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, July 2021.

[4] World Health Organization and UNICEF, Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene2000-2020: Five years into the SDGs, WHO/UNICEF JMP, July 2021. 

[5] A Morrison et al., Child undernutrition in households with microbiologically safer drinking water and 'improved water' in Tanna, Vanuatu, J Water Health, June 2020 18(3).  

[6] UNICEF, The Ripple Effect: Climate change and children’s access to water and sanitation, UNICEF, November 2016.

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