By ELIZABETH VUVU
DROUGHT awareness and preparedness in New Guinea Islands are being concentrated on Manus and Duke of York islands in East New Britain.
Matthew Poienou from NARI Kerevat who is also the drought awareness coordinator in NGI said they were focusing on all areas in the region but due to limited resources, they were firstly focusing on the two areas.
He said from recent visits to Duke of York and Manus islands found that there was water which could be used for cooking and water food gardens but water quality had to be improved to make it fit for human consumption during a drought period.
Poienou said NARI’s drought preparation and strategies were to prepare communities to sustain themselves by raising awareness and enhancing knowledge, skills and coping strategies especially in areas that faced problems with shortage of water.
He said they were focused on preparing information to prepare people for the drought including drought tolerant planting materials or livestock that have been tested out to survive during drought periods.
Poienou said PNG was located on western rim of tropical Pacific and vulnerable to extreme rainfall and intensity related to El Nino.
He said the coming drought would be much severe than that in 1997 and the focus was to ensure food security for PNG’s six million people.
“The communities needed to have in place agriculture production systems and post harvest or storing food before hand to use in times of drought.”
Poienou said in East New Britain, recommended food crops tolerant to drought included sweet potato, rice, banana such as dwarf kalapua, daru banana, dwarf yawa, yawa buka and cassava and yam.
He reiterated that scientists could not predict the exact time of drought but indicators have shown that the drought period would come anytime and people could not focus on when it would come but must have in place good preparations to survive.