NGO wants support for Solomons' flood affected farmers
New Zealand NGO is looking for support to help farmers in rural Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands who were put out of business by the flooding two weeks ago.
The New Zealand based non government organisation, TEAR Fund, says it is vital farmers in rural Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands get immediate help to start regrowing their crops.
The TEAR Fund's chief executive, Ian McInnes, says in the west and east of the island there are hundreds of communities that need assistance following the flooding which claimed at least 21 lives and left thousands homeless.
He told Don Wiseman gardens have been devastated.
IAN McINNES: Whether it's vegetables or root crops, they have either been stripped away or now lying in saturated ground and rotting and this is playing into higher food prices in the market, a sheer lack of food in some places and in our opinion, it is now one of the most urgent needs to be focussed on.
DON WISEMAN: In terms of replanting those gardens?
IM: Yeah absolutely, in terms of replanting. It is partly in terms of alternative food supply and that is happening right now and there are food distributions going out through aid organisations and the world food programme into communities most affected but really it's imperative that they replant, that they remove the silt from that land, replant and get crops and vegetables back up and running again. They can have things in market as early as six weeks from now but it will be three to four months, or even six months, before some staple crops are back up to capacity again.
DW: In terms of the silt that is on the land, how deep is that?
IM: Well, in places it is 10 inches thick. I mean, it is a lot of silt, it is just a sludge to walk through and it's just come down the rivers and pushed out through over the plains. We are not exactly sure how we are going to deal with this except to furrow it out and get in beneath it in rows where things can be planted again and/or get heavy machinery in and strip it off the top and get back to the ground beneath.
DW: So, you are seriously thinking of getting big tractors in there?
IM: It is definitely a possibility. We will certainly be funding tractors in for preparing the grounds for replanting so it is quite probable we will do the same for removing silt. And the communities we talk to, and these are remote communities, there are several rivers to ford to get there, they are rutted tracks up there to get to their villages. They made their money essentially plot by plot, household by household, off agriculture so at the moment they have no income as well as not just a food supply to the capital issue it's also now an issue of poverty and a loss of income and earnings for those families who depend on those markets for their income.
DW: All through this process, and I guess for obvious reasons, we have been hearing about the people in the evacuation centres in Honiara and knowing that there were people in desperate situations in remote areas but not quite knowing exactly how many and how they were. I presume there are people who have lost their houses and a lot of people made homeless, so where are they?
IM: There are some who have lost their houses. Floods more often that not will leave houses in place if it's of some sort of standard. If it is too shoddy, if it's more like shacks, it will disappear but a lot of people's houses are not destroyed, they are silted, there's been water through them in some cases but the houses are still standing and in those cases it would be better for people where possible to get home and start to repair their homes and start to make their incomes in the usual way and that the aid supply follows them and that the assistance turns from handouts of food and water and others to kind of helping get agricultural livelihoods started again and other jobs, not least because they are presently in schools as evacuation centres and those schools need to open up again so they need folks to move home.
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