Caritas report launched at Parliament today – Drought affects 4.7 M in Oceania

Su’a William Sio (Member of Parliament for Mangere) will launch Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s report about our close neighbours in Oceania at Parliament today, 4 October.

According to the UN at the peak of the regional drought in summer, food and water issues affected more than 4.7 million people

The impact of these factors continues to be felt, especially on health, education and livelihoods.

The report details examples of widespread hunger and thirst across the Pacific.

Children have been eating to eat cassava roots softened with paracetamol.

People dying from lack of food and clean water are among the examples of widespread hunger and thirst across the Pacific that are detailed in the latest Caritas State of the Environment Report for Oceania, Hungry for justice, thirsty for change.

The report reveals the region’s basic food and water supplies have been severely affected by a very strong El Nino weather pattern.

That has compounded the effects of serious emergencies like cyclones Pam and Winston and the ongoing effects of climate change.

“This is why we have shifted our assessment of the state of safe food and water supplies in Oceania to severe, up from high in 2015,” says Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director Julianne Hickey.

“According to our partners across the region, this was the most severe El Nino drought their people had ever experienced.”

“We heard of people walking days to get food and water in Papua New Guinea, with many becoming sick and some people dying from lack of food and access to safe drinking water.”

“In the Kimbe area of West New Britain, we heard of streams drying up, cracked soil and shrivelled coconut fruit – people could no longer make copra. Then a devastating bush fire hit that destroyed 25,000 cocoa trees,”says Hickey.

Caritas has been working with the people of Kimbe since 2009 to develop alternative cash crops to oil palm, with support from the New Zealand Aid Programme.

“Seeing their dreams go up in flames, they say ‘it was like losing a child’. But they’re not giving up. They are replanting, and looking for ways to minimise risk from future fires,” says Hickey.

State of the Environment for Oceania report considers impact of El Nino


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