UN readying to help PNG drought victims if needed
UN agencies in Papua New Guinea are making preparations to help if the drought threatening the country becomes more severe and its impacts are felt widely.
The United Nations system in Papua New Guinea says coping with a drought, expected to last into next year, will be a real challenge.
Drought and frost have impacted on parts of the Highlands for the past two months, but the UNDP's Roy Trivedy says the information so far from disaster assessors is that most of the region is in category 2, meaning the impact is not yet severe.
There have been reports of deaths due to the extreme weather, but Mr Trivedy says that is still to be verified.
But he told Don Wiseman they are waiting for full assessments of the extent of the disaster and its possible impacts, and will be ready to respond.
ROY TRIVEDY: Basically what we're looking at is to ensure that in the event that people are starting to suffer acute distress etc. we are able to get the relevant supplies to them as quickly as possible and as effectively as possible. A lot of that planning work is currently ongoing. We're looking at a range of potential distribution channels. We're looking at how do we make sure that we support properly both national government and provincial government in their efforts to provide for people who are under distress.
DON WISEMAN: You would be fully confident that you would be able to get supplies through to this, what is really I suppose a vast number of people spread over quite a large area?
RT: Things can change very quickly so I'm certainly not complacent and I'm not 100% confident that we could do that in every part of the country as quickly as we need to and that's why a lot of my time is going on how do we ensure that in the event, that we know we get the information, there is an emergency operational committee being set up nationally at the National Disaster Centre they are linking up with provincial disaster preparedness coordinators so people are phoning though to the emergency operations and that emergency operations group is then trying to keep an overview of what's happening, what's changing etc. across the country. Now in the event that people start to feel real acute distress we are going to all be challenged. Papua New Guinea is not a country where there are roads and easy infrastructure to get to everybody easily and so we are going to be challenged definitely to get the supplies to people as quickly as possible and that's why it matters now while we have this small window of opportunity, before things become too acute for us to make sure that we've got every single thing that we can, lined up and prepared, pre-positioned where we can, to be able to respond in the event that it's required.
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