ENSO forecast from global centers indicate a 50% chance of El Niño conditions developing during the second half of 2017. There are chances for the current persisting neutral condition to continue or weak to moderate El Niño like conditions might be possible. Historical data suggests that El Niño events which has onset from July to October are relatively weaker though other possibilities are not entirely ruled out at this stage.
In Papua New Guinea, eighty percent of the population is semi-dependent on rain-fed subsistence farming, and more than three quarters of the food consumed in the country is locally grown. As a result, any disruption to household food production has an immediate, severe and lasting impact on food security in the country. The highlands, with approximately 2.2 million people in many thousands of small and isolated villages, are more vulnerable to these weather extremes.
The 2015–16 El Niño has reached its peak towards the end of 2015 and continues its gradual decline. The impact and after-effect on people and their livelihood remains critical.
According to most recent estimates, more than 700,000 people live in areas classified as Category 4 and 5, where food production has been severely impacted and may be in need of food assistance and/or agricultural inputs. Of these, approximately 480,000 people are in Category 5 areas and continue facing critical food shortages
The Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) estimates that more than 2.7 million people are affected by prolonged drought. This includes 522,000 people in the most severely affected districts.
Priority needs include food, water and agricultural recovery support. With many affected communities living in remote areas, access remains a key issue.
The GoPNG has procured over 2,500 tons of food for affected communities.
Map produced by Dr. Mike Bourke. Dr Bourke is an agronomist with the Australian National University who has worked in Papua New Guinea for four decades.