Remote Gulf people surviving on leaves

Normal, Papua


MORE than 18,000 people in the remote Kaintiba and Kontidanga districts in Gulf province are reportedly surviving on greens and edible bush leaves after food crops from their gardens were destroyed by continuous rain.
Reports from the province last Friday stated that people of Kamea and Bema villages were likely to suffer from starvation in the coming days due to shortages of food caused by the bad weather.
“From reports received from districts, the situation could be worse right now given the remote location, the bad weather and the current threats of cholera outbreak from nearby provinces,” Joseph Puaka, the  provincial coordinator of the Catholic church group Caritas, said.
Mr Puaka said people were in need of food because rain in the past eight months had destroyed their food crops.
“People are unable to make gardens because the soil is too wet and most of the crops have rotted and become food for earth worms, birds and wild pigs.
“The villagers are surviving by eating greens and bush leaves while some of them were crossing over to nearby Menyamya district in Morobe province to look for food.”
Mr Puaka said the disaster could also lead to the closure of schools and health centres in affected areas because the situation could heighten the spread of cholera into the districts.
“Our men on the ground have reported cases of diarrhoea in the districts but this were isolated cases while there are no reports of casualties so far as a result of food shortage.”
He said he had notified provincial authorities, including Caritas PNG headquarters in Port Moresby.
“Caritas has pledged a total of K10,000 last week towards food and relief supplies for affected areas.
“There has been no response from the provincial government, the administration and the provincial disaster office.”