Highlands News

Enga Disaster Update

by Serah Aupong – EM TV News, Port Moresby

The latest wave of frost in Enga Province has worsened an already trying situation.

Enga Governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, now says the government needs to declare a national disaster so that help can be sought outside of the country.

The governor says this is one of the worst cases of natural disaster the province has had to deal with.

“For some reason the national disaster office seem to be downplaying what is going on,” said the governor, while attending a fundraising event in Port Moresby yesterday for frost and drought affected areas in the province.

In terms of relief supplies, he said so far they have distributed 14,000 20kg bags rice to families in Kandep district. This was done through the provincial disaster committee together with police assistance.

“The distribution went well, we didn’t receive any complaints,” he said while commending the efforts of the team.

The other badly affected district, Lagaip, needs another 14,000 bags of rice, however so far the province has only received 6,000 bags from the national disaster office.

“Supplies that are coming in bits and pieces should not be sent. It can cause problems amongst the people or they could fight for rations which we don’t want to see,” explained the governor.

He says the situation has worsened because the dry spell is now affecting other areas in the province.

The initial number of 187,000 affected people is likely to increase to over 250,000.

These numbers and the news that traditional water sources are now drying up will put a lot of strain on the already limited resources they are working with.

“I believe that they allocated K25 million and I was told that because it’s almost a national problem the funds are drying up…. if they are then it’s the responsible agencies should inform government so they can make extra funds available quickly.”

While the focus is now on relief supplies, the extent of damage done to food crops means that there needs to be planning for when weather returns to normal.

Peter Misin from the Enga Development Forum, who are helping with coordination of relief supplies says, “In terms of relief we will go to the extent of looking for seeds to provide when the weather returns to normalcy.”

Meanwhile Enga Provincial Police Commander, George Kakas, says the law and order situation has been manageable so far.

“The only issue that I am worried about is that there’s no food coming in the long run people may resort to illegal tactics to obtain food but we are making sure that its being watched educating people to restrain and not to engage in illegal activities to look for food.”

The governor says it is time the national government must put out a national disaster alert.

“I want to make a call to the national government to take this issue seriously, and make sure we take the action necessary and that is to provide food to our people so they don’t starve to death.”


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