By The Numbers: Cyclone Pam Wreaks Havoc

The data driving Asia

On March 13 tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, causing widespread damage across the archipelago nation in the South Pacific. Vanuatu’s president Baldwin Lonsdale said the Category 5 storm “wiped out” all economic development Vanuatu has seen in recent years and the nation will need to rebuild “everything.” Some villages on remote southern islands don’t have a building left standing. Pam also caused damage in the nearby nations of Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. We explore the devastation left behind, by the numbers:


The speed in miles per hour reached by some of Cyclone Pam’s gusts. The storm maintained sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. These were strong enough to rip trees from the ground and flatten homes. Greg Holland, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research said Pam was one of the largest and most intense cyclones the region has ever seen.

International Organization for Migration’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Staff from the International Organization for Migration trek across Emae Island, Vanuatu, to meet village chiefs to build up a clearer picture of damages and needs. Source: International Organization for Migration’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.


The population of Vanuatu, which is spread across 83 islands. Assessing the damage and reaching the outer islands to help with aid and recovery efforts is a major logistical challenge. There is a lack of clear airstrips and deep water ports. It is estimated that 70 percent of the population has been displaced. There are 37 evacuations centers in the capital of Port Vila alone.


The number of weeks left before Vanuatu will run out of food, according to Agriculture Minister David Tosul. Much of the population relies on subsistence farming, which was destroyed during the cyclone. World Vision’s emergency-operations manager says one of the next major challenges will be the emergence of a hunger gap over the next three to six months. The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 19,000 households will require food aid.


The amount of free credit mobile phone service provider Digicell is providing for customers to get in touch with their loved ones as Vanuatu’s communication infrastructure has been destroyed or severely damaged.

$12.3 million

The amount of funding so far provided by Australia, China, the European Union, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and the UN Development Program (UNDP). That number is expected to rise, and others such as Japan and India have promised to help once a thorough assessment has been carried out. Australia, France, and New Zealand quickly deployed aircraft to help with the recovery and damage assessment, while personnel from the U.S. Agency for International Development, UNDP, and others have since arrived. Vanuatu’s government is now criticizing the lack of coordination among these countries and aid agencies.

You can help with the response through donations to the organizations below:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *