What are the needs?
Due its geographical location, Papua New Guinea is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Situated on a segment of the Pacific's 'ring of fire' the country is on the edges of tectonic plates, a source of frequent earthquakes, volcano eruptions and, at times, tsunamis. Localised outbreaks of communal diseases, such as malaria and cholera, are common partly due to poor infrastructure and accessibility. The situation is often aggravated by storms and consequent floods and landslides, leading to the destruction of homes and livelihoods. Such disasters leave inhabitants in urgent need of temporary shelter, clean water and sanitation, primary health care, and other non-food items.
Finally, insecurity and excessive high costs of goods and transport are a major challenge for international humanitarian aid actors. Local capacity to respond to disasters is weak due to the poor infrastructure and the mountainous terrain.
How are we helping?
The European Commission has funded humanitarian projects in Papua New Guinea since 1994.
Responding to the impact of the climatic phenomenon known as El Niño, manifesting itself in Papua New Guinea in the form of extreme rainfall deficit, in 2015, the European Commission provided more than €1 260 000 to its partners on the ground in order to address the humanitarian needs of the most affected people and mitigate the impact of the prolonged dry spell. These funds are being used to provide health and nutrition support, and hygiene kits as well as access to clean water to the impacted families. In addition, farmers receive trainings on drought-resilient agricultural methods. A total of 75 000 people, particularly those in the hardest-hit central highlands, are expected to benefit from these aid operations.
Another focus of EU assistance to Papua New Guinea are projects aiming to better prepare local communities to natural disasters by building their resilience. Since 2009, the EU has been funding disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness projects (under the DIPECHO Programme), as part of a regional programme in the Pacific. Between 2011 and 2014, DIPECHO funding in Papua New Guinea comprised some €1.4 million. Projects have focused on the Rai coast, the Eastern Highland region, Tewai-Siassi, Okapa, Nawaeb and Finschafen areas which are particularly vulnerable to disasters.