People getting sick as dry weather damages food crops

National

By PISAI GUMAR
SEVERAL villages in Waria, Garaina and Biaru in Rural Bulolo district, Morobe are facing food shortage due to the prolonged dry weather which has forced three schools to close.
Former ward councillor for Kataipa Celsis Koi and village leader Jimmy Elap said people, particularly children and the elderly, were experiencing stomach problems and diarrhoea, perhaps caused by eating rotting root crops.
“Geni Elementary and Primary Schools and Kataipa Elementary upstream Hono and Bubu headwaters were shut because food gardens and water sources had dried up over the last five weeks,” they said.
They said more schools could close if the weather conditions continued.
Frosts compounded the situation, Koi said.
He said that  Geni, Belaok, Kataipa, Kapang, Uruwai, Hoiri and Isan villagers were suffering from hunger as vegetables were ‘burnt’ in gardens by frost.
“Children and elderly people are experiencing stomach aches and diarrhoea from eating rotten root crops. Six primary school teachers at Geni decided to close the school,” he said.
Elap said that the nearest aid post at Wisi in Waria was two days’ walk away and the Wau health centre was a five-day walk.
Bulolo district disaster coordinator Tony McHaretz said that the district would work  with provincial disaster unit director Charlie Masange and committee chairman Aaron Ambang to assist affected communities.
McHaretz said Sim and Kasangare in Waria and Biaru villages were also experiencing the prolonged dry spell which was taking its toll on  teachers and students from Sim, Kasangare and Biaru Primary Schools.
“These areas are located in higher altitude compared with those in lowlands affected by floods earlier.

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