14 Sep 2015

El Niño drought looms for cyclone-hit Vanuatu

8:32 am on 14 September 2015

In Vanuatu, six months after Cyclone Pam devastated the country, there are fears an El Niño-linked drought could create major food shortages.

Cyclone Pam destroyed homes and crops, but in a sign of recovery, uprooted trees are sprouting leaves again.

Uprooted trees are sprouting leaves again but there are fears of food shortages as the cyclone season approaches. Photo: RNZ / Veronika Meduna

Almost the entire Pacific region is preparing for what climate forecasters say could be one of the worst El Niño events since the late 1990s.

The aid organisation CARE Australia says in the country's south, staple food crops have failed to fully recover after the cyclone due to limited water supplies, sea water damage and dry conditions.

Its Vanuatu program manager Charlie Damon says people are starting to feel concerned about not having enough food.

"We were distributing seeds so that people could start to grow their own crops, however for reasons including unpredictable weather, these crops have failed. And so what we are preparing ourselves for is another situation where food security is a problem, where households do not have enough food. And we've already heard stories of children not being able to go to school because they haven't got enough food."

Ms Damon says the cyclone season, which begins in October, could further exacerbate the situation.

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