Be prepared: Don’t make life a disaster

Editorial

THERE have been reports of heavy flooding around the country which have destroyed food gardens, roads and homes.
Last week, the East New Britain provincial government suspended all classes in the province because heavy rain caused widespread flooding.
Central is still recovering from floods. Parts of Highlands, Morobe and Madang have reported that flooding has cut off roads.
Unfortunately, reports from these areas have not been received at the National Disaster Centre.
Inter-Government Relations and National Disaster’d Kevin Isifu says Government is ready to help people who have been affected by floods, but help will only be given once the situation has been assessed.
This explanation should encourage provincial teams to assess and submit their report so assistance can be received.
Flooding is a natural disaster and there should therefore be monitoring systems is place to provide early warning signals. Unfortunately, Papua New Guinea does not have functioning warming systems anymore because of funding constraints.
According to reports from the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa), there used to be a network of flood monitoring systems throughout the country in the 1980s but they have not been functional since the Government stopped its funding support in 1995.
Back in the day, Papua New Guinea had hydrological installations throughout the country.
Today, that void is being covered by the National Weather Service which uses its network of measuring rainfall to collect data for forecasting purposes.
However, the data collected by the NWS does do not indicate changes in the levels of streams and rivers.
Cepa reports that there is no monitoring system in place to assess the potential for flooding.
We have to get the system back up and running again, with the Government resuming funding, either on its own or with the help of donors.
Our failure to properly acquire the data that can help us foretell potential disaster situations is more costly than providing the funding to keep the equipment working.
The Government has invested heavily on roads and bridges, but it lacks the data to plan for such events like heavy rain and floods.
There is no sound planning in the country when it comes to building such important infrastructures.
The focus should now be on reinstalling these monitoring systems so we can plan such important projects according to the data and thereby keep our roads and bridges from being washed away.
Climate change is causing drought and heavier-than-usual rainfall so in order for us to be able to deal with disaster situations effectively we need to know exactly what the driving forces behind all these weather events are.
PNG is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, drought, floods and volcanic eruptions and while these are difficult to predict, being prepared for them is far more cost effective than to be caught by surprise and then having to deal with the damage, death and reconstruction after it’s too late.
Let us be prepared.

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