Thousands of people affected by floods in PNG's Oro Province | Pacific Beat

Thousands of people affected by floods in PNG's Oro Province

Thousands of people affected by floods in PNG's Oro Province

Updated 25 January 2013, 10:28 AEST

The Papua New Guinea chapter of the International humanitarian group, Red Cross says more than 27,000 people have been affected by severe flooding in PNG's Oro province.

It says they are in urgent need of food, clean drinking water and tarpaulins for temporary shelter after their food sources, homes and other infrastructure were inundated with water.

Firmin Nanol reports:

Presenter: Firmin Nanol

Speaker: Red Cross Secretary General Esmie Sinapa,Oro Provincial Government Governor Gary Zuffa, The Kokoda Track Foundation's Executive Director Dr Genevieve Nelson

NANOL: The Red Cross has been on the ground since the flooding disaster struck the province in November last year.

Its Secretary General Esmie Sinapa says they have conducted a rapid assessment and the damages are huge and widespread throughout the province.

She says the people urgently need food, water and shelter.

SINAPA: All major rivers in Oro have flooded, so the people who are affected are mainly in the middle part of the province or down at the coastal levels where the sediments and the floods meet the sea. So it's been widespread.

NANOL: Esmie what is the most basic need for the people?

SINAPA: The most basic need at the moment is food because many of the garden are covered in water since November. So in some areas there will be food provided. In other areas the urgent needs are water containers to store water.

NANOL: The Oro Provincial Government has signed a memorandum of understanding to partner with the Red Cross in the disaster relief operations.

Governor Gary Zuffa has pledged over 230 thousand Australian dollars to the Red Cross to carry out the relief operations.

He says Red Cross would also come up with a Disaster and Risk Reduction plan for the province as there is none at the moment.

ZUFFA: What I have done is I located 500-thousand to the Red Cross, primarily because they're already on the ground, they have a network of volunteers and they have provided a very good solution on how they're going to attempt to the disbursement of these goods and services and relief supplies and so forth. The other 500-thousand we will be distributing it either to churches, who are also out there helping a lot and administrative costs that are needed to carry out an assessment of the floods.

NANOL: The PNG Red Cross Secretary General, Esmie Sinapa again says provinces need to have a proper disaster mitigation and risk reduction plan.

She says they will draw up such a plan for the Oro province as part of the agreement and funding from the Governor.

SINAPA: Oro province continues to experience floods year in year out. So from this support we'll be able to look at a disaster risk reduction program and preparedness programs to get the affected communities or people in affected areas more prepared for the annual floods that happen in Oro. We cannot continue to provide relief, year in and year out. We must make sure that we are more prepared and the communities are more prepared. So that this is a cyclical thing they need to be able to take responsibility themselves.

NANOL: Help is also flowing into the province from other kind hearted people like in Australia.

The Kokoda Track Foundation or KTF, an Australian organisation which aims to repay the selfless help given to Australian soldiers in World War 2 by PNG's 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels' have also set up a fund raising drive in Australia.

Its Executive Director Dr Genevieve Nelson says they are making an urgent appeal to Australians for support.

She says the Foundation is going to assist the communities in the Sanananda-Buna-Gona region, and villages and families around the Kumusi river and further in-land, areas which were hard hit by the flooding.

The Foundation says in the last 24 hours there has been some positive response and they are really urging Australians to be generous and hope to receive a few more donations in the next few days.

Oro Governor, Gary Zuffa says he is thankful for organisations like the Kokoda Track Foundation for their tremendous support and help to his people in times of need.

ZUFFA: The Kokoda Track Foundation has done a lot of work in terms of trying to assist the people in Oro, especially along the Kokoda Trail. They are doing that or they are allocating the initiatives and we'll encourage it. I myself have taken up with the organisation in Port Moresby to try and encourage all the people living in Port Moresby and around PNG to coordinate the delivery of clothes and utensils and so forth so that we can deliver them to the people who most need them.

NANOL: Provincial disaster officials say the rain and flooding that continued since November, has subsided but they are still worried Oro is prone to such natural disasters and it could happen any time of the year.

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