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.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is vulnerable to El Niño induced drought, frost and forest fires, as recent 2015-16 El Niño affected around two million people. A preliminary risk assessment exercise has been carried out based on the methodology proposed in the “Assessment of El Niño-Associated Risks:
The Step-Wise Process” (UNDP, ESCAP and RIMES 2016). From 30-31 May 2017, the PNG Disaster Management Team together with national and sub-national government stakeholders undertook an El Niño Early Action planning exercise and developed the strategic objectives for El Niño Early Action and priority actions for both risk management and emergency response preparedness. The planning process was supported by UNDP and OCHA Regional Offices.
Rainfall anomaly caused by El Niño is expected to result in widespread impacts across numerous sectors including agriculture, food security, water, power-generation and mining.
Potential impacts of a recurrence of a serious El Niño condition include:
Severe damage to crops and reduced agricultural yields resulting in food shortages and a deteriorating nutrition situation.
Acute water shortages resulting in deteriorating health, hygiene and nutrition, closure of health facilities, closure of schools or reduced attendance, and increased protection concerns for women and children who will have to walk further or traverse high risk locations to access water.
Drying up of rivers limiting transport of food and goods, including ore and mining equipment, while low water levels in dams will reduce hydro-power supply in provinces including the national capital.