Extreme drought in PNG South Fly district

PORT MORESBY, 29 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – People of South Fly district, Western Province in Papua New Guinea are scavenging for food and water as the dry spell continues.

Shortage of drinking water has reached critical levels, subsistence garden crops are drying up, schools being to ordered close and the drop in the Fly River water level is being monitored as ships use the waterways to bring relief supplies inland.

The National Weather Office could not be reached to commit on the extent of the drought but reports from Daru indicated that about 200 villages in Morehead, Oriomo Bituri, and parts of Kiwai and Daru urban and local level governments have been affected by the dry spell, and is forcing people to walk long distances to source water.

A resident from the Pahoturi area and teacher from Waidoro Primary School Asiri Mabo said  that some of the rural schools had to be closed early because there is no food and water readily available for children.

“We have been advised by the Daru division of education to close schools immediately on reports of the dry conditions. All the water wells are dry and people are walking distances to find water in swamps or lagoons.

“All our food crops such as taro, banana and sago palms are dying. People in this area are camping in the bushes where there are water sources. These factors are affecting the number of students attending classes.”

Similar reports have also come from parts of Balimo and Kiunga townships. State-run NBC radio Daru-based journalist Hans Messeah said that Daru schools will be closing this week.

“Water is a common problem experienced by residents of Daru. A word from Daru education board is that all schools in town will be closing this week.”

Messeah said that many people have been admitted to Daru General Hospital for upset stomach and diarrhoea from drinking dirty water. Similar reports have also been received from Balimo and Kiunga. Many lagoons and river tributaries in Awaba, Balimo urban are drying up. Locals in these areas are facing difficulties to make sago which is one of the staple foods in the Western Province.

The provincial disaster office and provincial government could not be reached for comments.

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