45,000 Affected by Floods in Papua New Guinea

A report from the National Disaster office of Papua New Guinea says that more than 45,000 people have been affected by flooding in Gulf Province and Southern Highlands.

  • No deaths have been reported
  • 34,000 affected in Southern Highlands, mainly Imbonggu, Ialibu, Pangia and Nipa Kutubu
  • 11,359 affected in Gulf Province – mainly Baimuru and Kikori districts
  • Purari River in Gulf Province said to be overflowing
  • At least 35 houses have been washed away. Bridges, roads and agriculture have all been damaged across both provinces
  • Some families, particularly from villages along the Purari River have been forced to move to higher ground

Rainfall

The heavy rainfall first began in mid June and has continued since. According to WMO, Momote saw 65mm of rain fall in 24 hours between 17 and 18 July.

Water Contamination

There have been some reports claiming that the flooding has contaminated water sources in the affected areas, in particular in Gulf Province. Some reports claim the contamination is a result of chemicals from drilling areas being washed into water sources by rain and flood water.  Oil and gas drilling in Papua New Guinea has been the blamed for water contamination in the past, for example in Lake Kutubu in 2007.

Aid and Relief

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has said that US$3.6 million in aid will be made available for flood victims, as well as relief supplies.

Previous Floods in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is vulnerable to both inland and coastal flooding. The country suffered from severe coastal flooding in 2008. as many as 75,000 people were though to have been displaced from 8 different provinces. Earlier this year around 10,000 people were affected by flooding in New West Britain province.

Flood prone area in Gabagaba, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Nick Hobgood
Flood prone area in Gabagaba, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Nick Hobgood

According to the UNDP, inland or hinterland flooding such as those currently affecting Gulf and Southern Highlands poses the largest threat for widespread damage.

A UNDP report on the flood situation in Papua New Guinea says:

The lack of water impoundments and/or water reticulation schemes serves to increase the vulnerability of the largely agrarian communities.

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