The latest Caritas State of the Environment Report for Oceania has found widespread hunger and thirst across the Pacific in 2015/2016. The report Hungry for justice, thirsty for change shows extreme weather events, combined with ongoing climatic changes, are contributing to a severe loss of food and water supplies in the region.
The report documents children eating tough cassava roots softened with paracetamol in Fiji, and people in Papua New Guinea walking days to get food and water during the El Niño weather pattern that brought widespread drought to Oceania. At its peak, the drought caused food and water shortages for an estimated 4.7 million people.
The impact of combined events such as cyclones and the El Niño continues to be felt, especially on health, education and livelihoods. While the impact on basic food and water supplies has pushed the Caritas indicator for people’s access to safe food and water up to severe this year.
However, the report also recognises that strong community resilience, coupled with a largely effective emergency response from governments and humanitarian agencies, helped to minimise loss of life and infrastructure during the El Niño drought.
The Caritas State of the Environment for Oceania report follows how five key environmental issues are affecting people in Oceania:
Food and water
Coastal erosion and sea level rise
Offshore mining and drilling
Impact of extreme weather
The 2015/2016 report has been produced in collaboration with Caritas Australia and Caritas Tonga