Villagers facing hunger

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STARVATION is looming in Hagen Central where about 3,000 villagers were hit by a 45-minute hailstorm on Christmas afternoon.
The hailstorm destroyed all their gardens, farms and livestock turning Trika-Memeka, Jiga Muguka and Kumuga-Paga into brown and barren tracts of land.
All vegetables and crops, including tubers, have all dried or decayed – ruined by hailstorm ice the size of marbles.
Yet, 12 days after the natural weather disaster, no help is in sight for the villagers.
The Government, politicians and community leaders, and the National Emergency and Disaster Centre have all maintained a deafening silence on the plight of the 3,000 villagers.
Former Evangelical Lutheran church assistant bishop Zau Rapa, from the Trula-Memeka tribe, said their staple food sweet potato (kaukau) had all decayed due to the melted ice.
“Whatever good tubers dug from our gardens after the hailstorm are finished, whatever in the ground is not fit for human consumption.”
Rapa said their livestock like pigs were forced to eat sweet potatoes (kaukau) infected with diseases.
“Human beings as well as pigs, we all depend on kaukau for our survival,” he said.

The sweet potato (kaukau) leaves are gone, only dry veins remaining on the plots, the vegetation turn brown and dry after hailstorm hits Teregl village.

“We are staring in the face of starvation, the lives of men, women and children are at risk.”
Rapa said that his Kunjika Village with the total population of about 1,500 people were badly affected and were now struggling and striving for survival.
“Hunger is now a big problem in my village now. No vegetables, no sweet potato (kaukau), we survive on what we can find or salvage,” he added.
Rapa said that since the disaster struck, no help was forthcoming from the provincial or national disaster and emergency offices and centres.
“Last Thursday, Robin Yakumb, the provincial disaster coordinator came to inspect and assess the damage by the hailstorm,” he said.
“There is no more vegetation, the land is barren brown like it has been sprayed weed poison.
“We desperately need relieve supplies, new kaukau veins and fertilisers to quickly grow vegetables to rebuild our lives.
“It will take about six months to fully recover from the aftermath of this disaster.”
Yakumb told The National that the villagers were in dire need of urgent assistance.

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