Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drought-starved children die



AN ecological disaster with severe implications on lives has befallen the Menyamya district of Morobe, The National reports.

Councillors said in Menyamya yesterday that the situation in Morobe’s border with Eastern Highlands and Gulf was similar.

The prolonged drought of the past eight months had scorched the earth, cracked the soil, dried up food gardens, cash

crops and waterways.

The total impact of the drought on more than 100,000 people had not been measured by the Menyamya district administration, but officials feared the worst.

So far, reports said eight children had died from starvation in the past month in the most hard-hit area, Lagai in Kome sub-district, about 25km from Menyamya station towards the border with Eastern Highlands.

Ward councillors from Zipa, Miseck Moses, Kenali Jessie Solomon and elementary teacher George Titus at Ilbali and ward development committee at Longuli village Ofaiah Malje reported that five children had died in Ikumdi and three at Kenali in the Hakwange area.

All over Menyamya, people were surviving on pandanus nuts and young shoots.

Feral animals and reptiles, including cuscuses, bandicoots, snakes, lizards and birds had been seen dying from the heat.

Most mammals foraging for food had no fruits to feed or canopies to hide.

Aquatic creatures including eels, fish and tadpoles from three major rivers – Woklei, Kulani and Wanami in Lagai, Hengali, Awapango and Buu-Angai – are also dying.

The rivers had grown green with algae while small water sources continued to dry out while growing furry green algae.

The people had no choice but to use the same water used by animals.

At Lagai, ward councillor James Milpa reported that eight domestic pigs had died from dehydration.

The heat had also resulted in the burning down of nine houses at Ilbali including a trade store.

Bush fires, both natural and man-made, were flaring up.

No relief was in sight, the councillors said.

Kome LLG president Thompson Molinguso and Lagai Primary School headmaster Miseck Peter said the drought had reduced classes from six hours daily to two-and-a-half, adding that pupils became dizzy towards mid-morning.

Molingusa said without immediate government assistance, more people would die either of starvation or disease.

He added that they were wishing for rain.

But, an ecologist warned that any rain after a drought was often heavy, which could lead to flooding and more disasters.




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