El Nino: Crisis on our doorstep

By CARE Australia November 9, 2015 0 comments
A man holds up a meagre crop harvest in Papua New Guinea,

Communities in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations are facing food shortages due to El Nino. © CARE

Financial aid from the Australian Government to help some of our closest neighbours mitigate the effects of El Nino has been welcomed. $9 million has been pledged to Pacific countries facing food and water shortages including Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. However, continued assistance will be needed.

In Papua New Guinea, almost 2.5 million people are dealing with potentially life-threatening food shortages due to severe drought and frost. Effects are also being felt in the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste as well as Vanuatu, which is still recovering from the devastating impact of Cyclone Pam in March, one of the worst disasters in the country’s history.

“In many communities, people are already facing severe food shortages and the situation is only likely to get worse in the coming months. This funding is extremely important and will help us provide essentials to families who are already struggling to make ends meet as the drought has devastated vital crops,” said Daniel McCall, Country Director of CARE in Papua New Guinea.

But he warned continued support would be required to help communities respond to the drought caused by the weather phenomenon. “CARE welcomes this vital support from the Australian Government for our Pacific neighbours but more help will be needed. This is a crisis on our doorstep and we need to do everything we can to get help to those who need it now.”

Help communities impacted by El Nino. A donation of $20 can provide hygiene and water kits for families, while $60 can help provide protein such as fish for a family of five for one month.

CARE Australia’s recent assessments in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands found:

• Many households are at risk of running out of food, with the majority having less than a month of food stocks left
• Low crop yields mean there are no food surpluses and consequently no money to buy food or other essentials
• Households are limiting the number of meals eaten per day and have resorted to eating unfamiliar “bush food”
• Water levels are extremely low and women are walking up to two hours to collect water
• Poor water quality is increasing the risk of waterborne diseases

The current El Niño weather pattern is likely to become one of the strongest on record, affecting rain patterns and temperatures across the world for the rest of the year and into 2016.

CARE has worked in Papua New Guinea since 1989, and responded to the last major El Niño emergency in 1997. CARE has worked in Vanuatu since 2008, focusing on building resilience to disasters and increasing women’s involvement in community leadership.

You can help families facing food and water shortages in the Pacific and around the world due to El Nino. To find out more or make a donation today please visit CARE’s El Nino Crisis Appeal.


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