On commenting on the recent flood efforts undertaken by the Papua LNG Project launched on November 2, together with Gulf Provincial authorities and the project’s partners, Jerry Hape, Coordinator for the Gulf Disaster Office says the province faces many challenges.
“We don’t respond immediately in time of flood and rain because we cannot go through the river system because there will be logs, and rubbish, debris flowing down the river, so we wait until the flood stops.”
He says, because of these, they depend on ward councillors to send them updates and pictures.
For the most part, Hape says the disaster office mainly conducts disaster awareness in the communities, encouraging them to build their houses on high posts and to stock up on firewood for the rainy season.
In terms of funding, the provincial disaster office awaits disbursement from the National Disaster Office. He says where there is no immediate response, the provincial government assists where necessary while waiting for a response.
Hape expressed gratitude for the recent donation of a dinghy from the Papua LNG Project stating, that transport and mobility is another challenge they face.
“This (dinghy) will really help to make a timely assessment and get correct data, household population figures and all that so that when we are doing our planning. We know exactly how many houses, how many families are affected, how many are old people, how many are young people, how many are people living with disability, this will really help.”
Hape says they have requested an early warning system through the National Disaster Office. He expressed that once installed in the provincial headquarters, the office will be able to alert communities and disseminate information warnings.
On commenting on destroyed food gardens, Hape highlighted the strong resilience of the Gulf people.
“Our people have lived through it. It has been over the years where we get relief well after the disaster happens or even nothing. So that’s a real cry and that’s the challenge we have. There are processes that we go through to get the funds out and that’s where that delay is.”
Hape added that the waterway communities mainly depend on sago as a main source of sustenance.