Visual Records Of UNICEF’s Work

Tanna Island volcano

Fascinating videos of progress

By Roger Childs

Ethan Donnell is UNICEF NZ’s Leader of Digital Content. Late last year he spoke to a Kapiti group about digital records he’s made of the organisation’s work in

  • Vanuatu
  • Kiribati
  • New Zealand.

As always, UNICEF’s projects aim to improve the lives not only of children, but also whole communities.


In the shadow of the volcano

Lugging water through the dense bush. (Photo Ethan Donnell)

Tanna Island in Vanuatu is a dangerous place. Nevertheless, as in many parts of the world, local communities do benefit from the fertile volcanic soils. In Lauanoloua people living on the mountain have traditionally had to collect water from a river below a ravine: 45 minutes down and up through dense bush.

Bringing the water up is heavy lifting and the tracks are often slippery. One pregnant woman fell and lost her baby. One 87 year old lady has been making the journey to  get water for 81 years! Not anymore.

George, from the village, was picking apples in Hawke’s Bay when he heard about a rand pump designed in Napier. It’s now being used on the island to move the water up the slopes.

This is having huge benefits. As well as saving time, more water is available in village communities for things like washing hands, and children now spend more time in school.

Ethan has got this transformation in the life of the Tanna Island communities carefully documented.

 Kiribati: the battle against rising waters

The angry sea will kill us all!

Coastal flooding in Kiribati

The island nation made up of 32 atolls is four hours flying from Suva. Tarawa, a famous battle site in World War Two, is the biggest island.

The battle against the sea is constant. Erosion from big waves is a key problem and on Abaing Atoll there are seawalls along parts of the coast. UNICEF is helping the island’s communities with schools, house building and water supplies, and moving people inland.

With the emphasis on children their motto is every child has the right to a colourful childhood.

One major project has been to move some coastal villages inland to flatter, safer land.

The organisation is also helping the communities preserve their culture and traditions such as distinctive dancing and weaving.

Advocating for children in New Zealand

Applying political pressure is UNICEF’s key function in our country: lobbying at national and local government levels.

.Major concerns are

~ poverty

~ damp and mouldy housing.

Ethan videoed a house in Titahi Bay during the winter where all the family were sleeping in the lounge fully clothed. They were paying $500 a month for power.

UNICEF is committed to dealing with child poverty and is regularly involved at select committees.

The organisation is pleased with the new government’s commitment to ending child poverty, but will keep publicising the problems.