Farmer in his field.

El Niño induced threats to food security in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

29 November 2015

Source: Kud Sitango, NARI, Tambul, Western Highlands

An El Nino induced drought and frost event is now having a severe impact on much of PNG, as well as parts of Papua/West Papua, Solomon Islands and Fiji. All indications are that the impacts in PNG are likely to be as great as they were in 1997, and possibly more severe. Severe and repeated frosts have impacted food production at high altitude locations in four highland provinces; food is starting to become scare in many highland locations, with price increases in fresh food markets; drinking water is becoming scare in some locations; many schools are closed; and there are reports of increased health impacts in some locations. If the drought continues, it is likely to have a severe impact on the lives of over 2 million rural villagers in many parts of PNG.

The frosts and drought in PNG will be the focus of a session of next week’s State of the Pacific conference. The session will focus on the short-term El Niño induced threats to food security in PNG. Bryant Allen will provide background to the present situation, Mike Bourke, who has recently returned from PNG, will describe the existing situation, Tim Sharp will discuss the importance of the situation to villagers whose food supply has been disrupted, of access to markets and the ability to earn cash, and Peter Horne (ACIAR) will discuss the agronomic research that is underway in PNG in relation to the present situation. There will plenty of time for questions and discussion following the presentations.

The worst frost and drought in Papua New Guinea since 1997: What happens next?, (Mike Bourke: The Lowy Institute)

The following two recently published articles give an overview of the present situation in PNG:

Will a Major El Niño Event Disrupt Village Food Production in Papua New Guinea in 2015? (Bryant Allen: SSGM In Brief)

As Papua New Guinea faces worsening drought, a past disaster could save lives (Mike Bourke: The Conversation)

Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team