21 Apr 2011

Papua flooding causes hunger and health problems

1:39 pm on 21 April 2011

Thousands of people are at risk of starvation and disease after heavy flooding in the Paniai district of Indonesia's Papua region.

District head, Naftali Yogi, says heavy rains over the past three months has led to Lake Paniai overflowing and flooding at least seven subdistricts in up to 4 metres of water.

He says homes and farmland have been destroyed rendering thousands of families homeless.

The Jakarta Globe says there have been no reports of casualties as a direct result of the flooding.

But Naftali Yogi says the situation is grim because so much agricultural land and so many fish farms have been flooded and can't be harvested.

Mr Yogi says this means that around 10,000 people who are subsistence farmers and rely on prompt harvests are at risk of starvation and disease.

He blamed the flooding on the increased sedimentation in Lake Paniai, which he says is the result of the clearing of forests in areas adjacent to the lake.