Talasea people living on unripe fruits

​The people of ward eight area in the Talasea local level government of West New Britain are surviving on unripe pawpaws and other edible fruits in their area.

Concerned leader in the area Freddie Kumai told Loop PNG today that the people are now walking long distances looking for water and food as a result of the current El Nino vlimate effect hitting the area.

He said Talasea LLG should be declared a drought affected zone.

“The 10 ward council with an estimated 18,000 plus population are devastated by the prolonged  drought.

“Any responsible government agencies, state authorities or NGOS should respond to immediate needs of our villagers. It's every one's responsibility now to request for humanitarian supplies,” he said.

Kumai said all their food gardens were already destroyed and the villagers immediately need water and food.

“Spring water level is very low. An immediate short term measure is needed and water borne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery are  likely to hit the people if they resort to drinking contaminated water.”

He is calling on authorities to look into the medical capacity of community health posts and improve them to help the people during this harsh time.

He is calling on the provincial leaders to delay all the development of infrastructure projects and divert attention and funding to relief supplies and humanitarian assistance.

“The lives and plight of our people is important ahead of any material needs or development."

The ward eight community consist of Liapo, Valupai,Buluwara and Kurauwavo.

Meanwhile the Disaster office in Kimbe told Loop PNG on Monday regarding the same situation in the Hoskins area that they are carrying out assessment on the El Nino effects in the Hoskins Local Level Government areas.

Provincial Disaster Director Leo Mapmani said the respective LLGs mandated to carry out Initial Damage Assessment are yet to furnish reports to the Disaster office in regard to the current drought situation.

“According to Disaster Office general observation and assessment, many of our areas have not reached critical points that will determine any immediate relief assistance at this stage. 

“People who are facing food shortages are those that don’t have gardens and those that solely rely on oil palm blocks income as the means of sustenance,” he said.

Mapamani said the main town market and other road side markets are indicators that one can measure to determine food shortage levels bejng experienced now. 

“Based on these indicators, the issue of food relief assistance is not feasible at this stage.”

He said drought is a very slow onset natural disaster that can be managed.

“However, the uncontrolled light of bushfires have  accelerated the problems we now face  with food garden, oil palm blocks and other economic crops being burnt out purely due to people’s ignorance. 

In terms of water shortages, Mapmani said many surface water sources are drying up and many have reached critical levels.

“We are encouraging communities to tap into underground water sources. "

He said the provincial government Rural Water Supply program through the Division of Technical Services is underway to establish bore water wells in selected communities.

However, this will take some time to reach every selected site at this critical stage.

Freddy Mou