FROM the highlands of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific to the salad bowl on the southern coast of Fiji’s main island in the central Pacific, the long spell of dry weather is taking its toll. Cash crops and vegetables are withering in the heat, creeks are running dry and Vanuatu has confirmed cases of malnutrition. Our special expose on the impact of the drought brought about by what meteorologists say is the El Nina phenomenon focuses on the four larger Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. While this unusual weather pattern is not new to the Pacific, our expose reveals the disturbing trend of the countries’ state of unpreparedness to tackle the climatic crisis. To date, only PNG has launched a major relief exercise, while disaster management agencies in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji are still at a loss, it seems on what their responses should be
SOME million plus people continued to endure severe El Nino-induced weather conditions in Papua New Guinea as the government announced its latest support measures on top of its ongoing supply of relief aid that will be enhanced with further funding assistance by the Australia Government. While some level of short term reprieve have been provided for some of those affected in their food and water supplies, the situation remains critical with the PNG National Weather Service (NWS) indicating that the El Nino phenomenon will continue to strengthen and is expected to last until March 2016. The effects are expected to surpass the 1997- 98 event – the strongest El Nino on record – that adversely affected about 3 million people in PNG, the NWS said.