3 more die as dry spell continues

Lae News, Normal


ANOTHER three people have died in Menyamya as the dry spell continues, taking the toll to 12.
The food crisis is getting worse.
The hardest hit areas of Menyamya could not be accessed by vehicle and are more than a day’s walk through rugged mountains.
The two weeks of rain in the middle of last month worsened the situation when gardens were inundated with water and then became hard again after the dry season continued.
The people are now suffering from an illness that had symptoms similar to typhoid, with diarrhoea and vomiting, believed to have been the result of consuming rotten food.
They have not received any medical attention from either the district or the provincial government.
In some villages of Lagai council of Kome sub-district the people were pounding rotten cassava into flour and baking them in bamboos for a meal a day.
The food shortage is severe in Lagai, Ikumdi and Wailala. 
The children were being fed with sugar cane and sweet potato that had been eaten by beetles.
Many people from the remote areas had moved into nearby Yalkwe and Menyamya station to reside with families.
The district’s main cash crop, coffee, was being destroyed.
The leaves had turned pale and yellow while the cherry skins had shrunk while the berries were not producing the normal sized berries.
The people had made gardens under coffee trees in the hope that the shade provided by the canopy and the water it retains from evaporation would be returned to the soil for the food to grow.
Although the topsoil is wet, the rest underneath is still dry and contains heat.
After a touch of rain, the heat simmers dry all seedlings, banana suckers and root crops.
A Morobe disaster response team that flew a helicopter sortie into Lagai last Thursday to assess the ground situation could not fly on to Ikumdi because of foul weather.
It returned after an hour visiting Kulani River where team members saw dead tadpoles and a cassava garden near the Lagai Primary School.