Drought: Near 3 million in PNG lack food and water

AN estimated one-third of the population of Papua New Guinea is now suffering in from the country’s worst drought this century and experts predict El Nino’s influence will carry on until March next year.

The Red Cross in Papua New Guinea says drought-resistant crops and food supplies are desperately needed in the drought-affected Highlands.

The secretary general of the PNG Red Cross, Allison Dage, says an estimated three million people are suffering from food and water shortages caused by the worst drought in decades.

The national disaster management coordinator for the PNG Red Cross, Michael Sembenombo, says there are severe shortages of food and water.

But he says there is also a critical need to inform people about hygiene and sanitation issues to try and stop the spread of disease.

“People are eating kaukau that is being spoilt by the frost and also consuming water that is not safe.”

Dickson Guina, chairman of the National Disaster Committee, told IPS that 2.4 million people across most of the nation’s 22 provinces are confronting a critical lack of food and water.

There are also reports of many schools and hospitals forced to close as water shortages disrupt their operations.

“Our most urgent issue is water. We don’t have a river close by which we can use, so we depend on rain for drinking. But there is only one water tank for every 10 households, which is not enough,” Mangab Selau, a local Goroka resident said.

“We are now drinking well water, which is not safe for our children,” another villager, Hilda Jerome, added.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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