New Zealand Assists PNG Drought Relief

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

"New Zealand is to provide $250,000 to assist with drought relief coordination efforts in Papua New Guinea," the Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Don McKinnon said today.

Mr McKinnon announced the contribution after a meeting with PNG Deputy Prime Minister Chris Haiveta at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh yesterday.

"PNG only experiences droughts this bad about once every hundred years and over half a million people need relief assistance," Mr McKinnon said.

New Zealand's funds which come from the Emergency and Disaster Relief Allocation of the official ODA programme, will be used to help the Red Cross at the PNG Government's request, Mr McKinnon said.

"They will be used to coordinate badly needed disaster-relief expertise, particularly at community level in the drought-hit provinces."

Mr McKinnon said a New Zealand Red Cross disaster-relief specialist, also supported by the New Zealand Government, has travelled to PNG to help.

The current severe El Nino weather pattern has left PNG without significant rainfall since April. The entire country is now suffering serious water shortages and crop damage, and it is estimated that 550,000 people, or 12 percent of the population, are in need of immediate supplementary feeding.

A lack of severe frosts in the heavily populated Highlands region has also destroyed the normal cycle of subsistence sweet potato crops, leaving communities with no prospect of a harvest for at least nine months from the time they can next replant.