Poor logistical planning has been blamed for relief supplies not reaching starving people in drought-affected parts of Papua New Guinea.
An estimated 800,000 people are in need of food in mainly remote areas.
The PNG government says it has started providing relief aid but frontline workers say much of it is stuck in provincial warehouses, with no budget to distribute the supplies.
Speaking from Mougulu Station, deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea's Western Province, Solokai Fataiyai said it had been more than six months since the drought began.
"The dry spell is still on and we are, some people are starving because of shortage of food, it started last year and is still worse today."
His people were losing hope of ever getting help from the government, he said.
"They are promising us to assist us but, at the moment, we have not received any assistance, almost from last year, middle of the year. At the moment, we have got 15 people already have passed away because of hunger."
According to Mike Bourke, a specialist in Papua New Guinea agriculture and food, Mr Fataiya's situation was shared by hundreds of thousands - not because there was no aid, but because local authorities lacked the resources to get aid to those in need.
Mr Bourke, who had just returned to Australia, said this stemmed from a combination of drought-related factors, including reduced nutrition and an increased disease burden, with people having to work twice as hard to find food.
"Adults are dying who don't normally die - people in their 20s and 30s, there is clearly an increase in death rate amongst very small children. So we don't have really hard data, we don't have lots of good demographic data but the [photographic] evidence coming in is credible. It may not be tens of thousands of people overall but, for the groups and communities involved, it is a huge tragedy."
Dr Bourke had been compiling reports and analysis to try and assist authorities to be more strategic in the distribution of the aid.
Some of these reports relied on eyewitness accounts from people like Sally Lloyd, a daughter of Australian missionaries who grew up in the mountainous jungles of PNG's Western Province.
She said what she saw on her latest trip to the area only a few weeks ago shocked her and affected her deeply.
"A little boy came in one day, or his father carried him in one day. He had fainted and he was really dehydrated, malnourished, very, very hungry and and he had fainted and then become unconscious.
"They had really nothing to give him and he was too flat to even get a drip into him. So we just tried to rehydrate him a little bit and things like that. So that sort of thing, to see little children in that state because they have not had adequate food, is quite heart-wrenching."
Call to open door to aid agencies
Workers on the frontline of the drought crisis have been pleading with the national government to allow international donor partners and humanitarian organisations to take part in ongoing efforts to provide relief to drought-affected communities.
The drought relief director for uni-faith organisation Church Partnership Program, Mathew Kanua, said international partners could help.
"They do this thing all over the world. They can come and help and plan the logistics and transport together with the government, and budget these things, and invite the participation of the private sector and we can move this along very quickly.
"But the government has not clearly stated what role these people play - and, if any."
One of the final villagers that talked to RNZ from the remote Western Province region introduced himself simply as Samade.
He was not confident enough with his English to speak for long but summed up the situation in his village eloquently in PNG Tok Pisin.
"Some of us have died, some of us feel we are getting sick and we all in this drought have no food in our bellies."