What is The Hidden Pacific campaign?

Our Pacific neighbours urgently need your help. This isn't the paradise you see on postcards. In a hidden corner of the Pacific our Melanesian neighbours are isolated and vulnerable. These are some of the poorest countries in the world and too few Kiwis are aware of what's happening here. The Herald and World Vision are running a major campaign to raise funds for the immense and urgent needs in Melanesia. With your help we can make a difference to the children and their families who lack essential resources throughout this region.

What are the key problems in the Pacific?

The people of Melanesia live in isolated and dispersed communities that makes access to resources and services incredibly difficult. There is little economic opportunity and the majority of the populations are subsistence farmers or fishers. In the region one in four families live in poverty. Papua New Guinea ranks 158 on the Human Development index, the Solomon Islands 156, while New Zealand ranks 9. Vanuatu was ranked as the most at risk country to natural disaster in the world. Many communities have alarming health indicators similar to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

• Low levels of health and nutritional knowledge: There is significant child malnutrition in the region. A lack of health and nutritional knowledge, particularly in relation to breastfeeding, young child feeding practices, and sanitation is a major contributing factor to poor child and maternal health.

• Chronic diseases: PNG has some of the highest rates of TB in the Pacific, and the disease is increasingly becoming drug resistant. Because of lifestyle changes, most Pacific countries are facing a double burden of disease, with infectious diseases such as malaria, infectious diarrhoea and dengue fever remaining as significant health issues, while the incidence of non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes is increasing rapidly. This creates additional health risks for the population and places pressure on health resources.

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• Health inequities: There are considerable disparities between health services and access to rural and urban communities and wealthy and poor areas. Indicators of child health are much worse in rural areas in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, where the reach of the national health care system is limited to the services provided by poor quality dispensaries and aid posts. The costs of health services are also a barrier to adequate health care.

• Limited and inequitable distribution of human resources for health and nutrition: On average, New Zealand and Australia have three times more nurses and midwives per capita than Pacific Island countries. Papua New Guinea has less than one doctor per 10,000 people, compared to more than 20 in New Zealand, according to the World Bank.

• Gender based violence and discrimination: High levels of violence against women, discrimination, and harmful cultural practices (such as early marriages) create significant barriers for women in regards to implementing positive health practices and accessing health care. Around 70 per cent of women in PNG, and 64 per cent in Solomon Islands have experienced domestic violence.

• Water and sanitation: Lack of hygienic sanitation and reliable water supplies are major health concerns throughout the Pacific. In Papua New Guinea only 40 per cent of the population have access to clean drinking water, and in the Solomon Islands just 60 per cent. Many of the communities World Vision works with in Melanesia still rely on ground or rainwater, and practise open defecation or defecation into open pits or water sources.

• Geographic challenges and limited infrastructure: The geography of Pacific countries creates considerable logistical barriers to delivering and accessing health services and education. Many Pacific countries are comprised of multiple islands spread over large areas of ocean. Populations are scattered across remote areas with little transportation infrastructure, and travel can be difficult and expensive.

• Barriers to education, particularly for women: In PNG, half of all primary school-age children are out of school. In Solomon Islands 60 per cent of women never attend school.
Gender disparities in the education sector remain significant in many Pacific countries.

• Urbanisation: Urban populations are increasing rapidly in many Pacific Island countries. Urbanisation creates health risks from overcrowding, limited resources, and pressure on basic services like clean water supply and waste management

• Natural disasters and climate change: Much of the Pacific's land mass is close to sea level, making it susceptible to natural disasters, rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change. This can lead to contamination of fresh water, including by salt from rising sea levels or human waste, and increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.

How is World Vision responding?

World Vision has over 30 years of experience in our country offices in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu. WV works in partnership with local civic actors and government to foster accountability and to ensure long term sustainability of development. We use a long-term (10-15 years) integrated, community-driven development programme model that includes strategies on health, agriculture, water and sanitation.

How can I make a donation?

You can make online donations, phone donations and offline donations.

Phone donations can be made on 0800 90 5000.

Click below to donate:
Donate to World Vision

Where does the money go?

World Vision works in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste to help isolated families and communities build the skills and resources they need to become resilient to disaster and have a more secure future. Single donations to The Hidden Pacific campaign will initially go to cover the urgent needs in the Hanuabada Urban Wash Project. And by joining the Pacific Partners programme with monthly donations you will be contributing to World Vision's ongoing work in the region. You will be supporting water and sanitation projects, access to education, gender violence programmes, economic development and disaster risk reduction across the region.

We are committed to ensuring the highest proportion of the money you donate gets to those in need. Over the last five years, an average of 79.6 per cent of the money received by World Vision has gone to fund our development work overseas.

Where does World Vision work in the Pacific? What about Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji?

In the region World Vision works in - Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. This is where the needs are most urgent.

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands fall into the UN's poorest category of countries in the world. Vanuatu is consistently ranked as the most at risk country in the world to natural disaster - in 2015 it was devastated by tropical cyclone Pam, and months later severely affected by drought from the El Nino weather pattern. Timor-Leste has the highest rate of child malnutrition in the world.

The Hidden Pacific campaign is focusing on these countries as this is where we have vast experience and programming expertise.

How do you decide who needs help?

We determine the locations of our long-term projects based on the United Nations measurements of poverty. Therefore, our focus is on Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, according to need. We also respond to emergencies depending on the size and scale of a disaster and whether a local government can respond adequately.

What about poverty in New Zealand?

Although there is growing poverty in New Zealand, there are also many systems and agencies to assist those in need. There is always more need in the world than we are able to deal with, so World Vision New Zealand has decided to assist the poorest of the poor. We determine the locations of our projects according to the United Nations measurements of poverty. The United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index looks at multiple different factors including health, education, and standard of living, to determine where poverty is most extreme. While there are those who need the support of Kiwis at home, that doesn't prevent generous New Zealanders giving to those in desperate situations abroad too.