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Food shortages continue in PNG with millions affected

PNG Food Shortage

Crisis: A village woman, weak, sick and pregnant, was carried for hours by her husband from the remote Gogyebi village in Western Province for treatment at a health centre. Photo: Sally Lloyd

REMOTE villagers in Papua New Guinea remain critically short of food with predictions that severe weather conditions will continue until the middle of the year.
According to a World Food Program operational briefing paper, quoting PNG Government figures, more than 2.7 million people are affected by extreme El Nino climate conditions, which started a year ago.
One WFP briefing paper source, Dr Mike Bourke, a specialist in PNG agriculture, said many provinces have been identified needing ongoing emergency food, even though roads in high provinces have been cut by flooding and bridges are down.
In the Western Province and Sepik Province, there are few roads and the vast majority of villages are only accessible by plane or boat.
Brisbane-born Sally Lloyd has spent the past few months surveying the food crisis in the Mougulu region of Western Province.
She said little food had reached the villages that needed it most.
“There is a lot of need in PNG right now with the ongoing food shortage,” she said.
“Huge businesses and companies need to be involved in the food distribution, and there is hope that is starting to happen soon.
“It is difficult to understand why some people go to bed hungry and yet their situation is looked at with less empathy and response than others, where the humanitarian response is almost too great. 

“These people deserve to eat and to live well – I hope that the coming months will see some improvement in their situation.”
Dr Mike Bourke said he estimated 50,000 people were short of food.
He said the drought continued in the far south of PNG, especially in the south of Western, Central and Milne Bay provinces.
Dr Bourke said typically, isolated villages with no access to markets or regular supplies would survive by eating sago supplemented by vegetables, and seafood in coastal communities.
He said it could take at least three months for staple crops to grow back, and six months in PNG’s high-altitude communities.
An operational brief from the WFP reported a range of foreign aid efforts to provide food and essential items.
It said the Australian and New Zealand governments had provided funding to transport 20 containers of rice to the Middle and South Fly districts of Western Province.
The aid agency CARE had distributed nearly a quarter of a million cans of tinned fish to the Simbu and Western Highlands provinces.
World Vision International and Oxfam are amongst other aid agencies to provide water jerry cans, soap and aquatabs to thousands of remote households.
The severe weather conditions have crippled PNG’s major mines which rely on water during production.
The Ok Tedi gold and copper mine in Western Province, the nation’s largest mine, re-opened in March after being shut down for seven months by the drought.
Ok Tedi is one of PNG’s largest earners of foreign exchange, and a substantial contributor to government revenue.
By Mark Bowling

Catholic Church Insurance

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