by Bethanie Harriman – EM TV News, Lae
With drought-like conditions, and the prospect of no rain heading the way of Morobe’s Menyamya District anytime soon, food and water shortages are now starting to be of concern after five months of dry weather.
A nationwide drought has hit Papua New Guinea and many areas in Menyamya such as Lagai, Alyepa and Hengiapa are all reporting chronic water shortages.
District Disaster Coordinator, Darius John, fears the worst standing on the dry lawn at the district’s airstrip. He said the dry spell looks worse than that of the one faced in 1997.
“In 1997, the drought affected food and livestock, but this one has affected water first,” said John.
In villages like Lagai, the soil doesn’t have enough water to support food crops and plants are drying up. The people are resilient, but are beginning to face food shortages.
In Alyepa, there have been reports of frost at night, which is destroying farms and gardens.
Through out Menyamya, the days have become hotter and the nights have become cold, a classic example of the El Nino weather pattern.
Health workers in the district are also concerned, that without enough water, dysentery and airborne diseases may become lethal.
“Everyone is getting water directly from the rivers, so we are encouraging them to boil it first, before they drink.
“We have also told them not to pollute the river with animal feces and told people not to defecate into the river,” said Menyamya Rural Hospital Health Extension Officer, Samson Sakaneh.
Yesterday, Menyamya MP Benjamin Philip visited drought-hit areas to assess the current situation.
“The district will work with the provincial administrations and the national government to allocate funds to look after our people.”
“It’s a nationwide problem so I am sure the government will help,” said Philip.