PNG Earthquake: Post Disaster Needs Assessment Report - Huiya and Walagu, Hela Province Dodomona and Mougulu, Western Province Papua New Guinea (May 7th – May 17th 2018)


Quick Summary of Key Findings

In brief the assessment found extensive and continuing need for humanitarian assistance in the each of the communities visited during the assessment. In three of the communities visited namely Huiya, Dodomona and Walagu the scale of need is significant with the majority of householders in each community displaced and continuing to be severely affected by the effects of the earthquake that struck on the 26th February 2018.

The number one priority need is for shelter. Families need to move on with their lives, settle in new locations for the most part or return to previous areas, move out of care centres and communal shelters to individual family homes that provide shelter from the elements, reduce their risk to communicable disease and afford them the dignity and privacy they require. Part of the rebuilding process is the re-establishment of gardens for the cultivation of food crops to sustain their lives into the future and wean off the food aid support that will shortly come to an end.

Health and WaSH are perhaps jointly second priorities. The background incidence of communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, skin infections and respiratory diseases is high with elevated levels reported since the earthquake struck. Investment in prevention through support in water, sanitation and hygiene is vitally important at this time. Immediate requirements are to provide WaSH related NFIs such as jerrycans and soap coupled with education and promotion to support good hygiene practices such as handwashing with soapat critical times. Longer term support can be provided to improve access to water of a potable quality, that is accessible and of a quality fit for a range of different purposes.

Health Care is deficient is a number of areas not only to address the communicable disease burden but address the many other health issues that affect the targeted communities. Issues such as injuries, vaccination, reproductive health, STIs and other infections such as TB are high priority issues to be supported within the health system. The local health infrastructure is clearly lacking in many areas such as physical infrastructure, equipment, consistent and comprehensive drugs supply as well as staffing.

As mentioned under Shelter people want to re-establish their gardens for the cultivation of food. Significant challenges exist regarding the staple food crop Sago which has been lost under many landslides and can’t be replaced easily. Other needs include a range of seeds and tools to support the re-establishment of gardens. Linked to this is the issue of nutrition as chronic nutrition is apparent in the communities. There is an opportunity to support communities build more protein and micronutrients into their existing diet through the livelihoods support to be provided.

Like the Aid Posts other community infrastructure was insufficient even before the damage caused by the earthquake. Another opportunity exists to support Schools in particular and raise the quality of infrastructure by investing in Rain Water Harvesting and other WaSH infrastructure such as toilets and handwashing facilities to support the education needs of school going children.
Protection and Gender issues exist in the communities viewed but were not reported to be at levels above those before the earthquake. The isolated feature of these communities and the observed sharing of tasks between men and women suggests protection and gender issues are not as big an issue as could have been anticipated.

However, the big proviso is that protection issues often go unseen and are confined to the domestic sphere. Further, it is well documented that disaster and displacement result in increased protection and gender risks and so it is recommended that these risks be subject to ongoing monitoring supported by an integrated education and training program with defined, but realistic, avenues for assistance and support where needed.

Lastly, the assessment also looked to see ways in which Disaster Risk Management could be enhanced through the recovery programme. Much of the infrastructure, training and health/hygiene promotion support will incorporate ways to build the resilience of these communities to future shocks such as earthquakes, floods and drought. Wider work may be needed to connect communities to broader Disaster Risk Management.

In short there is real need in these communities and CARE is well placed to deliver multi sectoral support in coordination with key stakeholders within Government and other service providers in the NGO and wider humanitarian response community.