El Niño-driven drought and frosts in the normally tropical highlands in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands has brought Tasmania-like weather to the region, said Enga province administrator Samson Amean.
The worst frost to hit the province in 40 years has directly affected 300,000 people, said Amean. Hundreds of villages face months without food from local gardens after being destroyed by frosts.
“There has been a major disaster, all the food gardens lost in affected areas,” he said.
“Our basic food being sweet potato, or tuber, and all the vines are destroyed.
“Vegetables in the higher altitudes like cabbage, lettuce, English potato, all that is gone.”
The governor of neighbouring Southern Highlands province, William Powi, has also declared a state of emergency.
The Papua New Guinea government promised immediate disaster funds after receiving even more reports on the drought affecting Mt Wilhelm, Chimbu province, and the frost disaster in Tambul-Neblyer in Western Highlands province.
Same thing happened during 1997 El Niño
“I’ve never seen anything like it here in the highlands,” said Blossum Gilmour, assistant country director of CARE International in PNG.
“But we know the same thing happened during the last devastating El Niño experience in 1997.
“PNG is especially vulnerable given that around 80 per cent of food consumed in the country is grown in this region.”
Thanks to Allan Cotterill for this link