Social Concerns Notes – March 2016

Health Minister Malabag confirms K50m cut

The National, Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

HEALTH Minister Michael Malabag says K50 million has been cut from the budget allocation to church-run health institutions because of the nation’s current financial situation. Responding to concerns raised by Northern Governor Gary Juffa and Lae MP Loujaya Kouza about the budgetary cuts made to church-run health institutions, Malabag said most of the cut “centred on the payment of wages for workers employed in the Christian Health Services”.“My department will detail the actual figures and exactly where the cuts were made and will table it before the National Executive Council. And NEC is aware of it,” he said. “But as I’ve said, we cannot compromise the health situation of the people.  “Although we are struggling within the current situation, we are not directly putting the health of our people at risk.”

Killing the National Health System

The Department of Health seems no longer able to help sick people in need of medical assistance, treatment from doctors and medicines.

Sister nation Fiji spends $US154 per citizen on Health. PNG spends $US49.

See comments in: http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/peter-oneill-lies-again-about-national.html?m=1

 

http://health.pngfacts.com/2016/03/catholic-health-services-in-png-scaled.html

THE Catholic Church has lamented the Government chopping K50.7 million from its health budget, which will affect services at its rural hospitals, health facilities, VCT centres, a nursing school and community health worker training schools. The church’s medical arm – the Catholic Church Health Services of Papua New Guinea – currently runs five rural hospitals, 244 health facilities, 29 standalone VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) centres, a nursing school and four community health worker training schools. But the CCHS, in a full-page advertorial in last Friday’s edition of the Post-Courier, warned that the cut will impact on the operations of its services and the 3000 staff who work there.

“Those facilities are staffed by almost 3000 people, who not only provide services to the community but who support the local economy. Most of those services are located in remote and rural areas where the majority of the population lives. In many of those places there are no other health centres close by,” the church said. The church said the budget cut could now force it to lay off staff, which would mean other workers taking on extra responsibilities. “They are now facing the real prospect of having to take on the work of staff who have left or been laid off. To then be told that their pay will be cut to 2014 levels will certainly have an adverse effect on morale.” The church provides over a quarter of all health care in PNG hence any cuts in the Government’s budgetary support will have an effect on over 80 per cent of the country’s 7 million people.

Another church partner, the United Church also confirmed – through its moderator Reverend Bernard Usiai – that the Government also cut their budget this year.

 

K48m budget cut affects CHS
Post Courier, March 23, 2016

WE have a crisis at hand, is how Christian Health Services chief executive officer Joseph Sika describes the huge K48 million cut by the Government on the church budget. Mr Sika and three of his senior staff said yesterday they are negotiating for an audience with a member of the National Executive Council soon to rethink its decision. CHS oversees 89 agencies of the 24 churches or institutions running health services, many of which are located in rural areas.

This year, CHS has budgeted for K120 million, but the Government is allocating K72.1 million, a shortfall of K48.5 million.

 

I’m disgusted as MPs laugh at PNG health cuts

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/03/im-disgusted-as-mps-laugh-at-png-health-cuts.html#more By MP Gary Juffa.

YESTERDAY I watched in absolute disgust as members of parliament giggled and laughed as the Minister for Health made light humour of the government slashing funding by K50 million for Church run health facilities. I had sought an explanation about the cut to our health services by the government and asked the Minister to explain exactly by how much the budget would be reduced and what programs would be cut. Minister Malabag confirmed that the government had cut K50 million from the wages component of church-run programs. But the most remote areas in PNG where most of our people live are serviced only by the churches. Why did the government lie and declare that no cuts would be made to education and health last year and then do this? …

Most government MPs giggled and laughed as the Health Minister joked about the matter in response to a question by the Member for Lae, Loujaya Kouja. Our people’s health is no laughing matter, especially when many people in remote areas struggle to come to town to find help and wait for hours and even days for treatment. Many vulnerable people such as babies and the elderly are dying from treatable medical conditions. Saving lives is a fundamental role of any government but this PNG government finds the deplorable health situation in our country and our people’s misery a laughing matter.

 

Jails overcrowded by remandees: Nepo

Post Courier, February 29, 2016

ACTING Correctional Services Commissioner Bernard Nepo said the huge number of remandees held in jails must be addressed. He said more than 70 of the 94 prisoners who escaped from the Buimo jail outside Lae last Thursday were detainees who have not been convicted yet. He said he has visited the National Courts to express his sentiments over the overcrowding of jails by remandees, some of whom have been in jail for four to five years awaiting trial. He said of the Buimo escapees last Thursday, 76 were remandees while 10 of the 12 who were killed were remandees. “Remandees is a problem for our jails. Remandees are joint responsibilities of the judiciary, the police and the Correctional Services. Our main responsibility is the convicted prisoners. “Pressure is building and that with the shortage of manpower, rations and the jail compound space and more importantly the rundown facilities cannot hold the huge number of remandees so we need to address the situation,” he said.

 

TB a massive problem with big challenges: WHO

The National, Monday February 29th, 2016

TUBERCULOSIS is an enormous problem with enormous challenges in PNG and the response that has been put in place to address it, particularly the multi-drug resistance TB, has really taken off, a doctor said. This message came from World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative Dr Pieter Van Maaren during the first multi-drug resistant (MDR) and external multi- drug resistant (XDR) TB emergency response taskforce meetingin Port Moresby last Thursday. Van Maaren said there was a joint government partner mission to Daru in Western to review the situation. He said as the response was unfolding, there was enormous progress made.

 

This is my B’ville Crisis

Post Courier, March 01, 2016

WITH the will and determination of a mother to remove blockades to give her people and the children another chance of life, she felt that the inside story had to be told. Veronica Hatutasi was on the streets, a jobless and displaced Bougainvillean woman until she was given a chance in the media world to disseminate and educate the many thousand Papua New Guineans about the Bougainville conflict. It is really her story, a mother’s story told through the eyes and in body language to her children and grandchildren about the Bougainville Crisis. “I lived on the island with my young family when the crisis erupted, experienced and survived some of the worst years of the crisis in my home area of Siwai, southwest Bougainville,” she recalled. “I maintained neutrality from any of the factions of the Bougainville Crisis and focused on telling a simple story of hope, survival, human relations, violence and disillusion in the time of war. “It was a struggle for me, I never gave up, all I wanted was to write on the truth of life in Bougainville in truly difficult times on a once war-torn island,” she said. She said, despite all the challenges she had gone through she had not forgotten her people, she handled the reporting professionally right through to covering the cease fire. The Crisis may be a thing of the past now for many who have rebuilt their lives and moved on but for some, fears, tears and heart aches will remain. For Veronica, who lived, experienced and survived the Bougainville war, she felt that the inside story had to be told so she wrote a book Behind the Blockade.

“The book I’ve written provides an account and experience many will identify and recount in their own experiences where-ever on Bougainville. “I have told it as how it happened and have told it my way. For the first time, a Bougainvillean woman has spoken from her experiences,” she said. “For anyone wanting to write about it needed a journalist, a historian or any other academic, even a novelist. “If I can do it, all you other female writers out there can do it to. This is a period that is full of materials and memories that are unwritten for future writers to publish books about. We are about 30 years since the Crisis started and took hold,” she said.

Anyone interested to purchase a copy of her book can contact her on 72739408 or email: vhatutasi@wantok.com.pg

 

Woman receives prestigious US award

Post Courier, March 03, 2016

WINNIE William has been honoured as the Papua New Guinean nominee for the 2015 United States Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. Ms William was honoured as this year’s nominee in recognition of her courage, her dedication, and her sacrifice to save the lives of women.

Ms William, from Mendi in Southern Highlands Province, is a medical professional and serves as the Catholic health secretary for the Diocese of Mendi. Established in 2007, the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award pay tribute to women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress often at great personal risk. Newly appointed United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Catherine Ebert-Gray said, “Winnie consistently demonstrated exceptional courage and impact in advocating for good governance, law and order, and women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea. “In spite of personal threats, discrimination, lawlessness, and violent criminal acts, Winnie steadfastly placed her own life in danger to save other women from horrific sorcery-related violence,” Ms Ebert-Gray said.

 

Churches urged to help orphans

Post Courier, March 03, 2016

A MAN, who drives orphans and other disadvantaged children to and from school everyday, says if all the churches in Port Moresby did something for orphans, there would be no children on the streets.

Rex Kia said this in light of children still living on the streets even though they are being assisted to go to school by the Life PNG Care (LPNGC) under its Strongim Pikinini Education program. This year, SPEP is sponsoring 75 children to go to school of which only 22 will live full-time at the home care of LPNGC , while the rest are living elsewhere, including on the streets. The children living on the streets have expressed a desire to live in a home and have asked LPNGC Director Collin Pake and his wife Freda to take them in, but there is no more space for additional children.

“This is a challenge to the churches. This is their work.’’ I used to think that going to church alone was enough, but now I find that doing something for the poor was more satisfying because this is what God desires.” he said. He said he had decided to volunteer and be a driver for these children because he realized that it was too much for Mr Pake to do everything – drive the children to and from school every day – as well as hold down a full-time job.

 

O’ Neill grilled by Aust media over Pikinini Act

Post Courier, March 04, 2016

FAILURE to certify the amended Lukautim Pikinini Act of 2015 by the Papua New Guinea Parliament has put Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on spotlight at the Australian Press Club in Canberra yesterday. This is following reports to Medecins Sans Frontieres report that was launched this week and MSF’s urging certification of act passed last year, then stalled welfare law remains uncertified.

According to the Guardian newspaper in Canberra, Mr O’Neill said: “I will find out why it is not”, responding to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

 

Lukautim Pikinini Act certified
Post Courier, March 15, 2016

THE Lukautim Pikinini Act has been certified by the legislative council. The acting Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa confirmed yesterday the certification happened last Friday. With the certification done, the legislative council will ensure that the Lukautim Pikinini Act passed by Parliament is in accordance with other laws. The Lukautim Pikinini law ensures children are protected, have access to their rights and emphasises parental responsibility and duty to maintain a child. The law calls for all children to have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and have access to equal opportunity and access to education. It specifies that where any conflict arises between the interest of the child and another person, the interests of the child are paramount. Also, the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of a child is his own family and the responsibility for the care and protection of children rests primarily with their parents.

 

El Niño hits Papua New Guinea…HARD   – John Burton

http://www.blogs-mri.org/?p=924

… The national government’s stubborn rejection of help from the international development agencies is comprehensible in terms not of technocratic failure, but of an international posture maintained by national leaders. This posturing rejects PNG’s image as a mendicant nation and insists that PNG should claim a place as a leader among the 24 Pacific Island countries and territories.

 

MSF Report Return to Abuser

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/usa/files/msf-pngreport-def-lr.pdf

In 2014 and 2015, some 3,056 people sought care for the first time in MSF-run Family Support Centres in the capital, Port Moresby, and in Tari, in the Highlands region. Their accounts provide important insights into the patterns of intimate partner violence, family violence and sexual violence in these areas. Their experiences suggest that large numbers of people are suffering grave physical and psychological wounds in the very place they should feel the safest – within their homes and families.

The overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of these patients were female. Most had been injured by their partners, family or community members, and in more than a quarter of all incidents involving intimate partners, the women had been threatened with death. Nearly all – 97 percent – of those patients had injuries that required treatment. Two in three had been attacked with weapons, including sticks, knives, machetes and blunt instruments. …..

See the full report at: http://www.msf.org/sites/msf.org/files/msf-pngreport-def-lr-2.pdf

 

Service delivery concerns

The National, Wednesday March 9th, 2016

THE Health Department admits it is struggling to deliver services to the people because of the financial situation it faces at the moment. Public Health executive manager Dr Subauk Vivaldo Bieb told The National on Monday that as public servants, health workers wanted to fulfil what the Government wanted but their hands had been tied because of the financial situation.

He said one example was the shortage of anti-malarial drugs that needed urgent response.

“We do have a desire, we do have plans in place and they are costly. We know we want to do that but we can’t because the resources that we have at our disposal to implement those is not enough.”

 

Dept reveals problems with anti-malaria drugs supply

The National, Wednesday March 9th, 2016

THE Health Department is facing difficulties in supplying anti-malarial drugs to health centres and clinics across the country, Deputy Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala says.  “Right now we have cut down all the other alternatives to work within our K3 million budget for the month of March to address the shortage of anti-malarial drugs,” he said. “In the meantime, we urge those health facilities with adequate supplies to continue to help those in critical need.”

 

Women seek islands of refuge in Papua New Guinea’s sea of violence

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/29/papua-new-guinea-women-violence-at-home-refuge?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4f61f76925-Devpolicy_News__March_11_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4f61f76925-227683090

For women in Papua New Guinea, violence at home is horribly normal. Local charities are trying to provide shelters in the absence of government support

[See the url above]

While the government has passed new laws against family and sexual violence it has largely failed to enact or enforce any of them, and services are provided by NGOs, churches and grassroots organisations. Family, and the traditional welfare network of wantok, also play their parts.

Ume Wainetti, national coordinator of the family and sexual violence action committee, says the government is failing to follow through on commitments. “It’s either through ignorance or people are not prepared to use the law. Rape charges are very minimal,” she says. Family and sexual violence units attached to 14 police stations are proving effective but are resource-starved. The Lae unit has two officers and a commander, who on any given day face 30 to 40 women lodging a complaint or seeking interim protection orders against violent partners.

The City Mission also runs a halfway house for boys who have lived on the street or been in prison. Brown aims to teach them about respect for women while they are young. He estimates up to 500 young men are in the programme, and the majority of them grew up surrounded by abuse.

 

Immunisation drugs run out

The National, Wednesday March 16th, 2016

Madang has run out of immunisation drugs for babies. This has resulted in scores of babies being unprotected from early childhood diseases. Madang provincial health director Marcus Kachau said hospitals and clinics in Madang missed out on the drugs since the start of this year. Mothers, who brought their babies to the clinics to get immunised, were turned away on several occasions and were naturally worried. Dorris Joe said she was worried about her three-month-old infant because she was not immunised. “I was told there is no immunisation injection for babies because there is no supply, I don’t know how long I have wait,” Joe said.

Over 20 cases of sexual violence reported daily

Post Courier, March 09,2016,

BETWEEN 20 to 30 cases of physical and sexual violence against women, children and within the family is reported daily in Lae. The unit’s Officer In-Charge of the Lae Police Family and Sexual Violence unit Sergeant Ruth Murup said the unit is always on the lookout for opportunities to promote the message of stopping violence against women, children and even men, and for family homes to be safe. She said 20 to 30 cases of sexual and physical violence against women and children are reported to her unit or are passed onto them from other urban stations and from the Morobe provincial police headquarters. “When such cases are presented to us, we try our best to counsel, and if that does not work, we obtain an interim protection order for the women and her children or help the victims take the matter to court,” she said. Sergeant Murup said they have a good partnership with the Angau Hospital’s Family Support Centre and Courts in Lae, and are able to help victims obtain medical help and protection from the courts.

 

40,000 Family Sexual Violence (FSV) cases reported

Post Courier, March 09, 2016

Over 40,000 cases of Family and sexual violence cases have been reported since the initiation of the FSV Units in 2009. According to a report launched yesterday by deputy Australian High Commissioner, Bronte Moules, on the evaluation of the family and sexual violence units, six years on, 40, 000 survivors of domestic violence have received assistance. Many more have called in to use the phone counselling, however there are many others which are not reported or do not have access to these services. Deputy Police Commissioner Administration, Raphael Huafolo said the Constabulary recognises that family sexual violence is a serious concern in PNG. “For many years family sexual violence was seen as “normal” and an accepted part of PNG culture. Prior to the introduction of the RPNGC Family Sexual Violence Unit, many victims of family sexual violence were not served at police station counters because this was considered a “domestic problem”. However, with the introduction of FSVU and increasing awareness, a slow but gradual change in the mindset of policemen has been seen and an increase in reporting to the various services available for victims of family sexual violence including the police. For the RPNGC the Commissioner of Police issued a Police Circular 06/2007 in which all police officers must investigate all family violence reported and not turn them away. This policy document also gave the mandate to establish Family Sexual Violence Units within the RPNGC in 2009

 

Hold hubbies liable

Post Courier, March 08,2016, 10:00 am

HUSBANDS must equally be responsible and held liable for any deaths, violence and problems associated with polygamy. Simbu provincial police commander Supt Albert Beli said this yesterday after a woman was killed by another. The wilful murder took place on 24 Feb 2016 at about 10 am at Kagai village in Kamtai in the Sinasina-Yongumugl district of Simbu province. Supt Beli said the two women were married to the same man and had an ongoing feud typical of any polygamous families and marriages. Supt Beli said on that fateful day, the victim Bara Peter, aged 30, was stabbed in the neck and back shoulders with a kitchen knife by the other lady Marylyn Peter, aged 35.  Supt Beli Bara died instantly from loss of blood while there was no one around at the time to intervene and help too, adding that even the husband was away. Supt Beli said after stabbing her, Marylyn jumped onto a passing vehicle and surrendered to police in Kundiawa. Supt Beli said what infuriates him is that there have been many cases of wives of polygamous husbands fighting and killing each other. He said without any concern for the future of their children and their own, many mothers end up serving life terms in the jail just for that one moment of anger and jealousy with the opposing spouse of their husband. Supt Beli said while the other loses her life and the other spends her time in the jail, there is no point of allowing the husband to walk around scot-free and act as innocent as he is.

Supt Beli said it is said in the Bible and also in our country’s laws that man must marry only one wife.

 

Church partnership funds cut
Post Courier, March 23, 2016

NATIONAL Government funding to the Church Partnership Program has been reduced from K25 million to K10 million this year. The reduction in funding will impact on services provided by the mainline churches in Papua New Guinea but the National Planning Minister Charles Abel says the funding will be restored.

 

The Future of Papua New Guinea by Hayward Jones.

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/the-future-of-papua-new-guinea-old.html?m=1

In 2015 Papua New Guinea celebrated 40 years of independence. The anniversary stimulated a great deal of public reflection on the nation’s progress to date and its future. For Papua New Guineans, there are reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic about the next 40 years. …. [See the above url]

 

Diocese needs safe house for victims
Post Courier, Post Courier March 22,

THE victims of sorcery-related violence in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, need a safe house for protection when recovering from trauma. Bishop Donald Lippert of Mendi Catholic diocese made the call in an email to Post-Courier this week. “It seems every week, there are other stories of sorcery-related violence and the issue is not going to go away by itself. Right now there is a great need for a safe house where the accused can go until the particular issue is resolved,” he said. “It is a criminal act in the eyes of international law, the law of PNG and the law of God. It is a national shame!” Bishop Lippert said. He said the first and most important solution was to stop the violence so that there are no victims, and this will take a multi sectoral approach involving the whole community. But especially important was the role of the law and justice sector. ….

 

Moody’s places PNG’s B1 government ratings on review for downgrade Global Credit Research

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/03/moodys-placing-png-b1-government.html?m=1

Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has placed the Government of Papua New Guinea’s (“PNG”) B1 local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings on review for downgrade.

The review for downgrade is driven by:

  1. The impact of the further fall in oil prices on government revenue, fiscal deficits and rising debt; and
  2. A likely structural shift to lower economic growth given the increasingly uncertain outlook for commodity-related investments.

GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 2,470 (2014 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)

Real GDP growth (% change): 13.3% (2014 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)

Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 6.7% (2014 Actual)

Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -8.3% (2014 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)

Current Account Balance/GDP: 16.4% (2014 Actual) (also known as External Balance)

External debt/GDP: 110.1% (2014 Actual)

 

Safe water inaccessible to most in PNG: Study

The National, Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea, where 60 per cent of the population live without a safe water supply, has the poorest access to clean water in the world, according to a study released to mark World Water Day.
A report on the state of the world’s water showed Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Mozambique joining Papua New Guinea in the bottom five of a table ranking countries according to the percentage of households with access to clean water.  The report said 650 million people were living without an improved source of drinking water, which includes public taps, protected wells, rainwater or water The study also explored the high costs of water access, examining why the poorest communities often foot the largest bill.  “When there is no public access to clean water, people are forced to buy their water from street vendors which charge a premium.”

Papua New Guinea: Where Property Is More Expensive Than Manhattan

Source: http://thediplomat.com/2016/03/papua-new-guinea-where-property-is-more-expensive-than-manhattan/

…Office floor rentals and accommodation in Port Moresby are reportedly more expensive than their equivalents in Manhattan, with an average apartment going for a cool $1,300 per week. Many locals find themselves homeless in the city center, with rental prices hopelessly out of reach for persons earning the $45 minimum wage per week.

 

PNG’s mental health woes as Laloki struggles to make ends meet

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/03/pngs-mental-health-woes-as-laloki-struggles-to-make-ends-meet.html#more

IN EVERY Papua New Guinean town, you will find people who are mentally affected roaming the streets day in and day out. They seem to have no families or relatives or carers. They eat whatever’s been left in trash bins. There is no formal data collection system for mental disorders in PNG. …

The Laloki Psychiatric Hospital, which is the only long term psychiatric facility in the entire country, was established in 1967 as a mental health centre built to cater for 100 patients.

According to the hospital’s Dr Ludwig Nanawar, patient numbers have been increased greatly over the years. PNG’s mental health plan (2001-2010) had a goal to reduce the number of people suffering and dying as a result of mental illness through prevention of substance abuse, access to quality care and effective rehabilitation.

A number of goals were enunciated:

1.1 Improve mental health services available at provincial and district level

1.2 Review and update the Public Health Act (part 8) (Chapter No. 266)/Mental Health Act

1.3 Increase the number of staff and training positions and support training

1.4 Develop guidelines and material for in-service training

1.5 Develop and distribute a standard treatment manual

1.6 Establish and maintain psychiatric unites in all public hospitals and the four regional hospitals

1.7 Upgrade and maintain Laloki Mental Hospital

1.8 Secure and maintain adequate levels of medicines, equipment and other supplies

1.9 Secure and maintain inter sectorial collaboration in forensic psychiatry, domestic violence against women, and the control and prevention of substance abuses

1.10 Develop guidelines and materials for community awareness and education

1.11 Develop policy guidelines and promote support for community mental health and counseling services

1.12 Establish and maintain a monitoring and reporting system.

But these goals have not been fully met by the responsible authorities judging from what psychiatric professionals have told EMTV’s Olsem Wanem Program. The Laloki Psychiatric Hospital was allocated only K8 million for its 2016 recurrent budget. Is this enough money to run the only long-term psychiatric facility in the entire country? Infrastructure at Laloki is in dire need of maintenance and lack of patient space is a very crucial issue. Patients with mental disorders have to be kept separately as having more than one person in a room can be dangerous.

Laloki has more than one patient in a room and the safety is a risk. The staff cannot do much to ease this situation except monitor patients to make sure no harm is done.

 

Summary of assessments of food supply situation in Kandep Basin, Enga Province and Panduaga Valley, Hela Province

The Church Partnership Program (CPP) Food Security Assessment Team conducted an assessment of the food supply situation in a number of locations in three highland provinces in late March 2016. Visits were made to a number of communities in the Kandep Basin, including at Yapum Health Centre and Longap Village, as well as to Panduaga Village, north of Margarima, in Hela Province.

Findings: 1. There are widespread and severe food shortages across Kandep Basin and Panduaga Valley. Most people are surviving mainly on cabbage, supplemented by some ‘bush foods’ including watercress, wild beans, ferns, pandanus nuts, choko leaves and dried wild fruit.

  1. We heard of many reported cases of typhoid, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Sickness is reported to be caused by eating bush foods, lack of foods high in carbohydrate and protein, and lack of adequate hygiene.
  2. There has been widespread failure of sweet potato and potato crops. Crops were completely destroyed by a series of severe frosts in July 2015. Plantings made after the rains in November-December have failed, for unknown reasons, possibly associated with excessive soil nitrogen.
  3. There are almost no sweet potato or potato tubers in these areas. This was the case throughout the entire Kandep Basin and Panduaga Valley. We saw very small amounts of sweet potato in markets, and tubers were much smaller than usual. There is a shortage of planting material. Hence fast growing crops, including corn and beans, are not being planted. Because of the long growing period at these high altitude locations, maturity time for sweet potato is 9 to 10 months. Hence, there is unlikely to be significant supply of the staple food for another 9-10 months, even if plantings were made now.
  4. There is very little cash in these communities which can be used to purchase foods, including rice. There are no cash crops and even those food crops which can be grown successfully, such as cabbage, cannot be readily sold because of distance from markets.
  5. The CPP assessment team visited Panduaga Elementary School. Out of 140 students, only 80 were present. All 80 students were hungry, weak and dehydrated. All 80 students are living almost solely on cabbage and self-sown bush foods. Of the 80 students, 55 indicated that they did not have any food in their bags for lunch, but we have reasons to believe that this number was about 70 of the 80 in the school. The food that some of the students had for lunch consisted of a tiny handful of watercress, cabbage or other wild green leaves. There is no sweet potato or other carbohydrate foods available as a result of the frosts in mid-2015. ….

 

Figures provided by local pastors and councillors indicate that approximately 16,000 people are seriously affected in the locations we visited. However, there are other villagers in the very high altitude zone of these provinces who are also suffering extreme food shortages and famine. We have not assessed the total number of villagers who require food aid. A broader field and desk top assessment is required to gain an accurate estimation of the number of people who are suffering from severe food shortages in the very high altitude parts of Enga and Hela provinces.

Report prepared by James Komengi and Brendan Jinks. Email: kinukomengi@gmail.com

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