PNG drought eases for some, but still food concerns
The United Nations is warning of continuing the food struggle in Papua New Guinea despite signs that the drought is over in parts of the country, which have been hit by floods.
As Papua New Guinea struggles with widespread flooding, the United Nations System there warns the impact of six months of severe drought will continue to be felt for many more weeks.
The PNG country director for the UNDP, Roy Trivedy, says it is estimated many thousands of people remain in stress for lack of adequate food and clean water.
He told Don Wiseman it will be a long time before they can provide for themselves from their own food gardens.
ROY TRIVEDY: We are talking about at least a minimum three to four months, and we then have a compounded impact of flooding as you mentioned. So in parts of West Sepik province, in parts of Enga and Chimbu, we are finding a number of communities that have been impacted by flooding. In Western Highland province, in Jiwaka, in Eastern Highlands province and West New Britain we are getting quite regular reports of heavy flooding which has impacted on particular communities. So we are trying to build up a picture of what the situation in all these places is. And to be really honest these were things that were quite predictable when we had the really bad drought. We knew once the drought was over we would start to see some areas which would experience flooding. We tried to prepare working with government and others, tried to prepare communities to be able to face this. But of course this is really hard. Communities don't necessarily have all of the information. People like to think they are relatively safe and then we get places like Jiwaka the Wahgi River flooding. Lots of places across the country where there has been some landslides, some quite large landslides impacting on large numbers of people.
DON WISEMAN: The critical thing at this point both for flood victims and for people that still need to grow vegetables and need to find something to eat is that there is a speedy response. But I understand in recent weeks the government has stepped back a little, so you are clearly needing to approach overseas donors I suppose to fill that gap?
RT: Yes. We are doing several things. First thing is we are working with government to try and do these assessments of the changing situation, rapidly changing situation on the ground. So that government itself can take a view on whether it wants to respond in any way, is able to respond in any way. Second thing we are doing is we are reaching out to private sector organisations to say look, many of you have already promised and have done quite a lot, but can we help you to distribute any supplies that you have, or use the funds that you have, to ensure that food and appropriate supplies are provided to those most in need. And then the third thing they are doing is based on the information collected on these changing needs and so on. If the government is willing, we will then go back to some of the conventional donors and also the non-traditional donors and say given the situation, what can you do to assist?
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