PNG Governor says aid to drought-hit Chimbu not enough
A PNG provincial governor calls for more detailed assessments in drought-affected regions of the country.
The PNG Highlands are some of the worst affected areas of a drought that has spread across Melanesia and into Polynesia.
Food aid is a major part of a US$8.7 million dollars of assistance from Port Moresby that is being rolled out across the highlands region.
But Mr Kool told Don Wiseman Chimbu has the highest numbers affected and more food aid is needed.
NOAH KOOL: They haven't come and assessed the drought properly. They are trying to do a blanket coverage by just dishing out food but the drought can't run away. The people affected are many, and with the rations they gave, it is insufficient to cover all there is. Like one district has got 40,000 people and we distributed around 2,000 bags of rice for a 40,000 population.
DON WISEMAN: 2,000 bags of rice, just how far would that go?
NK: Oh that is for a meal or two, a meal or two. If it is a big family just a meal. If a small family - two meals. There are other people [and] they need rice.
DW: How many people are affected at the moment?
NK: It is around 150,000.
DW: There have been stories that have not been confirmed, I don't think, of people who have died as a result of lack of food or water that had become contaminated. Are you able to shed any like on that.
NK: OK the reports that we had on that are not very credible reports. Yes the people have died during the drought season but it is not related to shortage of food or hunger or things like that. It is a natural kind of death, so it is not really confirmed at this stage.
DW: You are getting insufficient food from the Government. Are there other relief agencies you can go to, or what about local relief, provincial relief.
NK: Yes, Yes, we had meetings with the district MPs, the members of parliament from the districts and some members are taking ownership. They are rolling our 2 million kina, one million kina, two million kina. They are buying rice now to dish out to their people now.
DW: You have got other issues besides food. There are clearly water issues aren't there? How are you dealing with that?
NK: We are not touching the water because we do not have enough money. We do not have enough money now, so we are feeding the people who are hungry first, with bags of rice and bags of flour, wheat, and then later we will look at things like water supply when we have money. Today we don't have money. Even the market price [for commodities] is affecting our budget, to the provincial budget. The National Government cannot give us any money because of the downturn in the oil and gas, the economy has been affected greatly. So the commodity prices and the copper and gold prices - they are not getting the tax that we anticipated. That affects the budget and we are still waiting for some funds to come for the development budget in the provinces. When we get a development budget we might sit down then and allocate some to the hungry population.
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