PNG urged to improve disasters response capacity

2:07 pm on 12 June 2019

Papua New Guinea's new government is being pressed to build the country's capacity to respond to disasters.

A house in PNG's Southern Highlands

A house in PNG's Southern Highlands after last year's 7.5 quake Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

The National Disaster Centre is making a submission to the cabinet of new prime minister James Marape.

It stresses the vulnerability of PNG to multiple natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones and flooding.

Two earthquakes over magnitude-seven struck PNG last month - one in Bulolo district on the mainland, the other in the islands region between New Britain and New Ireland.

The centre's acting director, Bill Hamblin, said luckily these quakes didn't match the devastation of last year's 7.5 quake in the Highlands. But he said they were reminders of the need to be prepared.

"One of the things we're now working on feverishly is to improve our disaster capacity, for response and being prepared; putting in regional stores and supplies; pre-positioning non-perishable supplies; and having the equipment to move those supplies."

Dr Hamblin said that over the years the national disaster response capacity had diminished, for various reasons.

"So, it's now that we have a look at this, and we see the effects of climate change, we see more of these issues happening with landslips etc in the country," he said.

Dr Hamblin cited last month's landslide in Tsak Valley of Enga province, which killed eight people as a village was wiped out.

He also cited recent floods in Vanimo-Green which decimated food crops.

Bill Hamblin

Bill Hamblin Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

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