Increased Activity At Vanuatu Volcano Threatens Agriculture, Human Health

Ash from Mt Yasur on Tanna constantly falling on areas around volcano

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 27, 2016) – Communities surrounding Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna are struggling to survive as volcanic ash falls continues to threaten agriculture, animal and human health, infrastructure and water.

The volcano has been jetting a lot of smoke and ashes lately, a local on Tanna conveyed. “Villagers have to cover their heads from volcanic ashes when walking around and buildings with tarpaulins”, stressed another local.

The constant ash falls is disturbing infrastructure development and affecting crops grown like ‘aelan cabbage’ that livelihoods depend on.

Cabbage have to be washed several times before being cooked, locals stressed. Volcanic gas can also damage grasses for livestock.

In its bulletin number 1 for Mt Yasur this year issued recently, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), responsible for monitoring all volcanoes, said the volcano is in major unrest stage and some volcanic explosions remain strong.

“Volcanic bombs may fall in and/or around the crater, the area of risk.

“Volcanic gases and ashes can also affect villagers that are exposed to trade winds”, VMGD has warned.

Visitors including villagers are advised to view the volcano from the exclusion zone which is about 395 m around the eruptive vents to avoid volcanic projectiles, gas, ashes and any other volcano activity related incidents.

Located on the coast near Sulphur Bay, Mt Yasur is Vanuatu’s major tourism attraction. The island’s economy depends on tourism.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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