With just four kilometres separating us, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is Australia’s closest neighbour. And recently millions of people in PNG were facing hunger, thirst and disease on our doorstep.
In recent times, PNG quietly experienced its worst drought since the devastating 1997 crisis that caused food shortages, disease and loss of life.
This time a super-charged weather event known as El Nino’ caused record high temperatures. Combined with a below average rainfall, hunger, thirst and disease once more became a real threat for the people of PNG.
But thanks to people like you, Oxfam were there.
Providing clean water and jerry cans
“In this area – Kafetugu – when it is dry season, we find it very difficult in terms of food, so the things that Oxfam has provided [water tanks, jerry cans], we are grateful for. We really need tanks, that’s why when Oxfam brought the tanks we we’re so happy. Our need is water, and Oxfam provided.”
– Maggie Dick, 40, Kafetugu, Henganofi District, Eastern Highlands Province
“The Oxfam water containers will relieve us. They will help us with our gardening. We can now carry more water and water our faraway gardens, for drinking, washing. Some of the mothers were crying when they received their containers.”
– Theresa Sundu, 26, Wonkama village, Simbu Province
In a moment of joy, Claire threw down her old dirty water bottle (pictured above) as she collected her new water container from local Oxfam staff.
She said: “Before I had this container I walk 4 –5 times a day for water. Now that I have this I can go once and it will last me 2 –3 days. It is 20 minutes downhill to collect water. So this makes me very happy. I am very grateful to people who got this container for me.”
– Claire John, Wonkama village, Simbu Province.
Preventing disease with hand-washing and sanitation
“There are less sick people because of the trainings. Oxfam taught us when you go to the garden and come back you have to wash your hands or when you cook or when you go to the bathroom and come back you’ve got to wash your hands.”
“Before Oxfam came many people in the community were sick and they died. But now is here, because they provided toilets and water and how to be hygienic less people have gone to the hospital.
“I am very, very happy for Oxfam coming here. In our traditional custom when we’re happy we scream. I want to scream but we’re in a closed room! So I just want to say that I’m very thankful that they’ve sent this training.”
– Margaret Kondango, Danbagl village, Gembogl District, Simbu Province.
“Oxfam taught us why washing our hands is so important. It is easy to do and helps stop sickness in our village. We wash after the toilet, before cooking and many other times. Before Oxfam came here we didn’t know why we needed to do these things but in our village now everyone does it and things are better, cleaner.”
– Helen Tenwan, 32, Sirumgoralo Village, Eastern Highlands Province.
Tackling hunger with long-term solutions
“Before the training we think that only tin fish or tin meat or chicken makes up protein. So when Oxfam come and teach us that our beans are protein we realise it is in our garden. So now all our mothers at home know how to provide a balanced meal for their family everyday using their local food. They will truly pass that knowledge to their children.
“Oxfam teach us about mulching and to put the plant, the seed under the trees, like bananas. Mulching keeps water underneath the ground. I would say I thank Oxfam for training us”.
“I will praise Oxfam because unlike other funders or organisations they taught us in capacity building. Like us in this organisation (KGWan) are all from this village and Oxfam taught us and helped us. We are not skilfull, we lack knowledge so Oxfam help us with all this.”
– Joanne Kambe, 33, Danbagl village, Gembogl District, Simbu Province.
In the past Margaret’s family never grew vegetables to sell, but Oxfam encouraged them:
“When they [Margaret’s family] were living here before in the past they never had individually worked in planting vegetables to get money. But when Oxfam came it encouraged them, because it provided them the seeds, the onion bulb seeds and now they’re really working towards that.
“Everyone joined the training and now they’re all very experienced in planting onion bulbs.”
– Margaret Thomas, 24, Danbagl village, Gembogl District, Simbu Province.
Though El Niño and drought have now passed, it can take months before families can access food and income from their harvests. Even then, it’s not enough.
Long-term crop and drought adaptation training is needed so that families have better survival skills during extreme weather conditions.
You can help families like Margaret’s prepare for extreme weather events when their crops are failing, water is scarce and disease is on the rise.
Help fight hunger, thirst and disease
Oxfam are teaching communities the vital survival skills they need to prepare themselves for the next extreme weather event. Please donate today