Watut faces famine threat

National, Normal


FEARS of starvation and waterborne diseases have been raised by the council manager of Watut.
The area was hit by a landslide last Friday that destroyed the Sapanda and Kawamanga communities in Bulolo district.
The landslide swept away two people, food and cash crop  worth thousands of kina leaving the people homeless and distraught.
The body of 23-year-old Onawi Johnson was recovered  on Saturday while the search is continuing for his three-year-old daughter Danula downstream of the Sapanda River to the Watut River and as far the middle Watut villages of Latep, Leklu and Sambio.
The two communities in ward six area were traumatised when experiencing the natural disaster for the first time, council manager Jombert Raune said .
The heavy rain started last Friday at 6pm and continued for four hours and then the landslide hit the villages.
“The people were distraught and afraid to walk around or visit their garden and cash crop sites,” Mr Raune said.
His big fear was that without food and proper shelter, the people could contract diseases that would further complicate their problems.
He said the people’s livelihood had been destroyed.
“Sapanda, the leading coffee producing area in Watut LLG is severely affected with most farmers’ coffee pulping machines gone in the landslide.”
LLG officers visited the site to assess the situation last Saturday and would file reports to the Bulolo district administration, Morobe provincial government, provincial disaster and emergency coordination unit tomorrow.
“The cost of resettling will exceed K100,000 but actual costs are still being finalised before they are confirmed and submitted,” Mr Raune said.
Bulolo district administrator Nimsen Kibisep said the district administration would hold a special meeting tomorrow to seek funding.