10 May 2010

PNG warned to improve water supply systems before a severe drought hits

4:13 pm on 10 May 2010

Papua New Guinea's National Agriculture Research Institute says that developing rural water supply systems will help communities counter the increased risk of cholera outbreaks in times of severe drought.

Scientists at the Institute have warned that PNG can expect a major drought around 2012 which could last for up to 18 months or more.

The government has agreed to give the Institute 900-thousand US dollars annually for the next five years to develop the village water supply system.

But the Institute's principal scientist, Dr John Bailey, says PNG must prepare itself thoroughly for the major health risk and food shortages which drought will bring.

"And with cholera in the country now, obviously that makes it worrying as well because the disease is here during the drought and if people are not getting hygienic water supplies and are scavenging for any water they can get, there is a much increased risk that this sort of disease would take off. And that's probably our biggest concern, at least in terms of human life."

Dr John Bailey