Drought Relief Supplies For PNG Highlands Ready For Distribution

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Wantok system needs government help in extreme cases: O’Neill

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept 28, 2015) – Relief supplies for the drought affected areas have finally arrived at the point of distribution in the worst affected areas of the country, notably the Highlands.

And more reports of people needing assistance have reached the National Disaster Office from different parts of the country. So too have deaths, linked to the El Nino-induced weather.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced yesterday that supplies have been delivered to central distributions points which included:

Mr O’Neill said relief supplies will continue until current climate issues are resolved.

He said it is only in extreme cases that such Government intervention is required in Papua New Guinea.

"Ours is a country where for thousands of years, the wantok system has ensured communities look after communities in times of need," PM O’Neill said.

"It is only in circumstances like now, with drought made worse by climate change, that Government is stepping in to provide immediate relief.

"Response to this current drought and frost disaster has been carefully managed to ensure relief supplies reach families and communities who are in need.

"NEC has so far allocated K25 million to provide immediate relief to affected communities.

"Around half of this funding has already been used to purchase food supplies, which have been and will continue to be distributed by district authorities.

"We have had a response strategy for this drought situation for some time and now we are executing this plan.

"The response to the drought today will not be a repeat of the response in 1997. Advances in communication have enabled the Department of Prime Minister and NEC, and the National Disaster Office, to be much more efficient in delivering relief.

"With all the best intention in 1997, Government systems were not able to effectively target relief supplies as well as we can today, and as a consequence money was wasted," the PM stated.

"Each district and each province is different, and our response is being managed according to these local needs.

"We are engaging the authorities, as the level of Government, that is closest to the people for distribution.

"The district authorities know their local communities and are in the best place to distribute supplies to people who are in need.

"All relevant district authorities have now received first and second rounds of relief supplies and this will continue through additional rounds for as long as this drought lasts.

"If there is any village or community that has not received sufficient relief supplies, I urge them to work with their district authorities.

"The current allocation of relief supplies will be reviewed as response to the disaster continues."

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