PNG Drought Worsens; Reports Of Food, Water Shortages, Lack Of Relief

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National Disaster Committee defends government response

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 22, 2015) – The El Nino-induced drought is peaking rapidly and already there are widespread complaints and grumblings about shortages of food and water – and the absence of the Government relief aid.

Reports reaching Post-Courier from Central, Chimbu, Western Highlands, West New Britain, Morobe and Hela provinces and parts of Jiwaka Province, state that garden produce are gone, water sources have evaporated and people are starving.

There are also claims that a number of people have died because of the extreme hot weather.

But the chairman of the National Disaster Committee Dickson Guina and Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, Trevor Meauri, said the Government is responding to the drought-affected areas based on assessment reports.

And they gave assurances that funds are available but the reports must be channeled through the Government system from the local and district levels to Waigani.

"Many of these people who have gone to the media maybe in areas categorised as 1 and 2, and I urged them to report their situation through their local level district manager so that the Disaster Office can be notified.

"I am not discouraging them to go to the media, but I encourage them to report their situation through the Government system and that is through their district manager who is on the ground who can give us a realistic assessment," said Mr Meauri

He said the Government has allocated K25 million and because of past droughts they are able to respond directly to the affected areas and so far they have expended K12 million in just two months and there is funds still available.

He said in the Highlands region, critically affected areas are those that are been hit by frost while in lowlands and a number of islands water is a problem.

"We have purchased water tanks and jerry tanks for these communities"

Chairman Dickson Guina said relief supplies have been dispatched to critically affected areas, especially Tambul in Western Highlands, Kandep in Enga, Chimbu Province, Ialibu-Pangia in Southern Highlands and Goilala in Central Province.

"These are areas that are critically affected and rated Category 5 for lowlands and coastal areas it is drought and water and the Government has responded to them through the assessment reports," he said.

He said Papua New Guineans must not expect Government handouts but try to sustain themselves the best they can while the Government concentrates on critically affected areas.

On the claims of drought-related deaths, Mr Guina said there is to be medical confirmation instead of assumptions.

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