Drought Report – Gulf Province

It has taken quite a while before furnishing you with another drought report from Kerema Diocese. After a long dry spell, we have been receiving very heavy rain in our mountain areas. Recently we also received heavy rain throughout the whole Gulf Province. This helped the coastal communities to get water in the nearby streams easily. Most educational institutions which were closed in October 1997 should be able to start the school year well. Hope our children will not be victimised again.

The communities from the mountain parishes and coastal areas started planting sweet potatoes, bananas, taro and other vegetables in their gardens. People need to be assisted with lots of seedlings such as corn, beans, chinese cabbages, pumpkin and so on. The garden food planted now will take another five to six months before they can be harvested. After six months people will come back to their normal lives.

After the heavy rain in most of our badly affected areas people are still coming to our diocese office seeking for more help from us. Despite the rain the results have not changed, the people are still suffering. The parish priests from various parishes have also raised the same concern. They said the majority of people need lots of assistance.

Papua New Guinea government assistance has been insufficient and even delivered late while the bulk of the people suffer while waiting for the relief supplies to reach them.

Melbourne Diocese financial assistance has greatly supported the communities. Even we have also assisted the government in chartering planes to transport the relief food supplies to our mountain parishes.

I would like to give our sincere thankyou to the Melbourne Diocese for the financial support you have given to our communities. This has greatly assisted us in providing relief food supply to the needy. I would also highlight our concern on AusAid aid given to Komako and Buu communities with the population of 2,100 people. This single group of people received more food supplies than the total population of 13,000 people. They live in the same area and we are questioning on what basis the assessment was made. They are listed as category 5 on the AusAid drought report. Our communities are all affected in the same way as the Komako and Buu communities. The recent re-assessment should at least put our communities on the same category as the other Komako and Buu.

Finally I have prepared the general expenditure of the spendings we made on the relief food supply. We also learnt from Caritas Australia that basic relief food is only rice, flour and cooking oil. We have included tinned fish in our list. The Papua New Guinea government have included tinned fish in the relief supply. We will improve on this in the future.

Thankyou once again for the financial support you have given to the people of the Gulf Province.

Yours Faithfully

John Toivita Justice Peace & Development Officer