Vanuatu: Investing in resilient urban planning

Luganville survey team members departing to respective sites to conduct survey -Credit: Kaliopate Tavola


The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have been working closely to support resilient urban development for the towns of Lenakel and Lakatoro in Vanuatu. A team from DUAP and SPC collected and mapped asset and infrastructure data (October 2023) that will be used to support the urban expansion of the township.

DUAP and SPC previously worked in Tanna and Malekula Islands, developing Concept Town Plans for the Lenakel and Lakatoro townships. The work included Resilient Investment Plans supporting organised urban growth and economic development of both islands. Risk assessments were first undertaken for both townships to ensure critical assets are not vulnerable to common hazards and that urban expansion would not take place in vulnerable areas. Asset and infrastructure data were also collected in both townships by the SPC Pacific Catastrophe Risk Financing Team (PCRAFI). DUAP were keen to roll this methodology out for other townships in Vanuatu. When recent funds became available from the Asia Development Bank (ADB), Luganville began its risk assessment and asset data collection to inform its urban planning. The PCRAFI team are supporting DUAP with the data collection.

SPC GEM staff Kaliopate Tavola training Luganville survey team members on how to validate the data collected as part of the data post-processing process - Credit: Kaliopate Tavola

The DUAP Acting Deputy Director, Mr Jeffrey Kaitip, stated that DUAP is rolling out the methodology implemented in Malekula and Tanna with any urban expansion to be based on the risk assessment. “It is critical that we understand areas that may be vulnerable to key hazards to ensure any development is exposed to risks. This is important in Vanuatu’s context, being vulnerable to a wide range of hazards. The work rolled out in Luganville will inform town planning, and we are grateful for the assistance from SPC to support DUAP on the ground.” The SPC PREP Project Manager,

George Beck, SPC PREP Project Manager added “It’s great to see the integrated approach and initiative taken by DUAP to build on the earlier work, including the collaboration between the PCRAFI and PREP projects. It’s important that we use the science to support resilient decision-making and investments. DUAP have an excellent team moving forward to plan resilient towns.”


DUAP staff have been trained in urban planning techniques, data collection and GIS, with SPC providing technical oversight. It is a model that can be used by other countries with similar small growing towns. DUAP were able to showcase this work at the Pacific Urban Forum (August 2023) in Fiji and delivered a key message that was about using science to inform resilient urban town planning.

For more information on this story, please contact:

Eileen Turare – PCRAFI II Project Manager
George Beck – PREP Project Manager

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