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March 1, 2021

Vanuatu’s Drought Effects

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By Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby

Just months after the devastating hit of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the country is now experiencing the effects of El Nino.

The Solomon Islands, PNG’s neighbouring country, has seen no rain, as the foretold drought sets in.

It is said to be similar to, or even worse than, the long dry spell in both PNG and the Solomon Islands in 1997.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, with other establishments, have been giving relief supplies to the drought-affected areas.

The drought has not at all help in the comeback of areas that have been affected by Cyclone Pam.

CARE International’s, Charlie Damon, says their organisation has been helping out by distributing seeds and tools for planting to people of Tanna Island. However, there are still reported cases of people getting sick as side effects of the drought; such as diarrhoea because of drinking unsafe water.

But, there is still hope for the people.

In an interview with Caroline Tiriman of ABC, Vanuatu agriculture scientist, Dr Vincent Lebot said around this time is typical that there’s no rainfall, but if this carries on till December then people should start worrying.

When asked which foods grew well and fast after the cyclone, Dr Lebot said, “Wan kakai we i hariap, i bitim ol narapela wan emi kumala — sweet potato.”

He added that other good foods that can mature quick are vegetables like tomato, cucumber and pumpkins.

Farmers have been urged by the Department of Agriculture to preserve some of their crops for themselves, instead of selling them all. And have also been encouraged to practise agro-forestry during this time.

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