Wed 20, Jul 2016
These are not the images that come to mind when thinking about beautiful Papua New Guinea. Yet the effects of the ongoing El Nino weather system continue to wreak havoc on this tropical island, devastating the lives of many. In a recent report by the PNG Church Partnership Program (CPP), it was estimated that around 140,000 people there are suffering severe food and water shortages, the majority of whom live in the Southern Highlands and Western provinces, along with the areas of Popondetta, and Dogura.
The report states that despite recent rain in these areas, the long period of drought has resulted in successive crop failure, destroying the staple foods that these communities depend on. Children are displaying signs of severe malnutrition, lacking the necessary carbohydrates and proteins found in their normal diet of cassava, yam, banana and sago, and have resorted to eating wild vegetation from the local bush. School teachers have reportedly closed or limited classes as a result, as many students were sick and fainting in the classroom from starvation.
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There has also been an increase in the instances of typhoid, diarrhoea and pneumonia due to the food and water shortages, with poor hygiene and poisonous wild foods contributing toward illness and death in many communities. As most of the creeks throughout PNG have dried up, some villagers are forced to travel miles to find water, exhausting larger systems which are already prone to contamination from increasing people and animal use.
Tragically, numerous reports have surfaced of young women and girls being exchanged for food by their families, or children being abandoned by parents who are unable to support them in the crisis. These disturbing instances of forced prostitution and neglect show the desperation within these communities, and the urgent need for food relief assistance.
|A woman collects food rations to|
feed her family.
The Anglican Church of PNG has been actively working to support communities throughout these areas, in conjunction with others from the Australian government-supported CPP. Along with the distribution of emergency food supplies to students and families within Kerina Evangelists’ College (Tsendiap, Jiwaka Province), the newly appointed Anglicare Disaster Response Coordinator has been involved in detailed planning meetings with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the CPP, ensuring a coordinated response amongst the churches. As over 75% of the population of PNG identifies with one of the seven mainline churches involved in the CPP, the churches are ideally placed to not only gather information on remote village conditions, but also design and implement a response.
The need to respond is now extremely urgent. Your donations will enable emergency food and water aid to go where it is needed most, and will also help to equip Bishops, Parish Priests, Ward authorities, and community members with information and skills to be able to manage this crisis, and prepare for future natural disasters before they occur.
ABM is seeking to raise $50,000 in the coming months, now that Initial Response funding from the Australian Government (DFAT) has ceased. This is in addition to the generous donations already given by our supporters since this appeal was launched in November 2015, which have been contributed towards the food relief in Kerina Evangelists’ College.
ABM APPEAL FLYERS FOR PARISHES AND INDIVIDUALS
09/02/2016 Update - In the past month ABM has supported our PNG partner (Anglicare PNG) to recruit a dedicated Disaster Response Coordinator who is currently preparing an action plan for the next 5 months as part of the Church Partnership Program (CPP) Joint Response. Read more.
02/11/2015 Initial Emergency Response - Many of ABM's supporters are aware of the El Nino weather condition that has been affecting parts of Australia and also much of the South Western Pacific in recent months. This has already brought drought declarations in much of Eastern Australia. Among ABM’s partner churches in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, significant parts of each country have experienced critical water shortages and failed food crops over the last few months. Read more.
(Please don’t forget to write down the Code XG044 and/or the campaign name Pacific El Nino Emergency Appeal and include it with your donation.)
Gifts to ABM will be applied to the support of project(s) selected. In the unlikely event of the project being oversubscribed or not proceeding to completion, donations will be applied to a similar project to the one(s) selected.
(Main image: PNG locals show the results of a poor harvest.)