Papua New Guinea: Highlands Earthquake Situation Report No. 5 (as of 29 March 2018)

This report is produced by the National Disaster Centre, the Office of the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Coordination and Assessment (UNDAC) Team in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by the Disaster Management Team Secretariat. It covers the period from 21 March to 26 March 2018. The next report will be issued on or around 5 April 2018.

Background

• Parliament passed two bills on 27 March 2018, formalizing the State of Emergency and establishing a Restoration Authority for earthquake-affected provinces.

• UN and partners issued their initial earthquake response plan, calling for US$ 62 million to provide life-saving assistance and kick-start early recovery for 270,000 people in earthquake-affected areas. Of this, $9.2 million has been met from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

• Initial assessment results indicate that 73 per cent of earthquake affected areas are accessible by road, while 27 per cent require alternate approaches.

• Of 67 health facilities in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces damaged by the earthquake, 73 per cent are now open.

270,000 people in need of assistance

$62M funding required

58,677 people have received food assistance

280 hygiene kits distributed at family care centres in Tari

50 metric tons of relief items transported or stored

Situation Overview

On 27 March 2018, the Parliament passed two bills formalizing the State of Emergency in earthquake-affected areas and establishing a Restoration Authority for the affected provinces.

The first bill formalised the State of Emergency initially declared by Prime Minister on 2 March 2018, while the second establishes the WESH Restoration Authority, covering Western, Enga, Southern Highlands, and Hela, as well as parts of West Sepik and Gulf provinces. The Restoration Authority will have similar functions and legal provisions to the Gazelle Restoration Authority, which was established to manage recovery and reconstruction in the wake of the 1994 volcanic eruptions on the Gazelle Peninsula (East New Britain province) and which is considered a best practice for comprehensive and long-term recovery and reconstruction in Papua New Guinea.

The Prime Minister indicated that the Restoration Act’s primary attention was rebuilding infrastructure and resettling people displaced by the earthquake, and that the Authority’s focus would be recovery and restoration of impacted social and economic infrastructure and services within the affected provinces. The terms of the Restoration Act establish the Authority for a four-year period with a budget of K450 million initially allocated by the Government.

On 28 March, the Disaster Management Team (DMT) issued its initial earthquake response plan, which focuses on providing life-saving assistance and helping to re-establish basic services for 270,000 people in need of immediate assistance due to the 26 February 2018 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks and landslides.

The response plan, which supplements Government-led relief and recovery efforts, also aims to help restore livelihoods and self-reliance of affected people, and provide safety and protection for the most vulnerable, including women, girls, boys and men and persons living with disabilities.

It calls for US$ 62 million to support urgent action in seven areas, including Food Security;
Health and Nutrition; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Shelter; Protection; Education; and Logistics Coordination.

Sector-specific detail on priority response activities is provided below. According to the results of an initial Early Recovery Cluster assessment, 73 per cent of areas in which affected populations are located can be accessed by road, although some of people may not be able to access roads due to other factors (e.g., local conflict, terrain, etc.). For affected populations in the other 27 per cent of affected areas, alternative approaches are required as road-based assistance or the use of commercial activities to deliver aid are not likely to be effective. Challenges related to physical access, as well as security considerations, remain a crosssectoral concern that is affecting the delivery of assistance, particularly in remote areas accessible only by helicopters and/or small planes.

Some affected communities are yet to be reached by response efforts, with many having moved to informal sites locally referred to as care centres. Water collection and storage systems, health facilities and schools have been damaged and destroyed in affected areas, compromising the affected population’s access to basic services and increasing the risk of epidemic-prone diseases and malnutrition. Damage to household gardens and reduced market access due to damaged roads has increased the risk of food insecurity.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.