Trip Report: Daru Floods Inter-Agency Inter-Sectoral Assessment Mission
This report was written by Boris Pavlin, with inputs from all team members.
Dates: June 6 – 12, 2012
Location: Daru, South Fly District, Western Province
- To verify the number of people affected
- To assess the humanitarian needs of the affected population
- Andrew Oaego, National Disaster Centre (Assessment Team Leader)
- Murray Gewa, PNG Red Cross Society (PNGRCS)
- Ben Maipa, PNGRCS
- Jasper Touna, PNGRCS
- Sonya Gray, AusAID
- Leon Young, Australian Defence Force
- Boris Pavlin, World Health Organization (WHO)
Our team met with key persons (see Annex 1) to assess the current situation vis-à-vis humanitarian needs in the flood-affected areas of the South Fly District. Due to significant logistical challenges (chiefly the limited supply of fuel in Daru, but also diversion of transport vehicles for election and/or mining use), our assessment team was not able to conduct any assessments until the Day 3 of the mission. In the meantime, our team participated in meetings with the disaster task force, and reviewed the findings of the “Flood Disaster Action Plan, South Fly District, Western Province” (developed by the South Fly District Administration, and hereafter referred to as the FDAP)(Annex 2).
On Day 3, our team travelled by boat from Daru to three villages (Old Mawatta, Masingara and Kunini) in the southern coastal region of the South Fly District. These three villages fall within the area designated as “Priority One” (most affected) in the FDAP. In each village we spoke with key informants, made direct observations, and, in the case of Old Mawatta, held a group discussion with village women.
The team continued to participate in disaster task force meetings and provide inputs, while awaiting advice on whether further assessments could be arranged. On Day 6, the team was informed that it would not be possible to conduct any further assessments for at least several more days, prompting the termination of the present assessment mission.
Findings are presented by Sector, with findings from the June 8th assessment trip provided first, followed by other relevant findings (in italics). Findings from the assessment trip can be viewed as an update to the assessment provided in the FDAP (which took place 2-3 weeks earlier) for the areas visited.
As all housing is on platforms, no shelters have been destroyed by floodwaters; no persons are without adequate shelter. In Old Mawatta, the church sustained minor damage from floodwater inundation. Some structures sustained minimal damage due to rainwater leakage.
There were no displaced populations in the visited villages, nor were there reports of villagers who had not been able to return to the visited villages.
Floodwaters have drained completely from the visited villages. There are small pockets of standing water, but no evidence of blocked drainage.
In Old Mawatta, drinking water had been sourced from rainwater catchment tanks, in addition to a well. The well was contaminated with floodwaters, so it is now being used exclusively for bathing. There is, however, sufficient water in the catchment tanks to supply the village. In the other villages, there is surplus water in rainwater catchments. All households have sufficient water cans / buckets for their water needs. Bathing takes place in individual homes. Some households have soap, detergents, etc., while others do not; however, this is unchanged since the flooding. It was noted that many houses had roofs suitable for collecting rainwater, but no catchment method to retain this water.
The vast majority of defecation prior to, and since, the flooding, has been open defecation either in the bush or the beach. In Kunini, there are additionally several latrine structures that were inundated during the flood, but have since been cleaned out and are now operational.
The PNG Red Cross Society is able to provide additional 15- and 20-liter water containers to allow storage of water, in anticipation of the upcoming dry season. Currently, 300 x 10L water AusAID water containers are being stored in Daru and are available to assist flood affected villages. The PNGRCS are also able to provide hygiene education (as are Provincial Authorities given their experience in the 2010 cholera outbreak in Western Province).
No health centres or aid posts were directly damaged by the flooding, with the exception of minor roof leakage of rainwater. Health facilities have had no changes in staffing as a result of the floods. All health facilities are experiencing shortages of medication, birthing supplies, etc.; however, all of these shortages are chronic (several health workers reported that shortages had worsened considerably since the introduction of two contractors into the supply chain instead of receiving supplies directly from AMS). In Old Mawatta, it was noted that there had been an increase in diarrhea immediately following the floods, but that this had since subsided. There have been no reports of substantial illness. Mosquito nets are available but are noted to be old and in need of repair, or resupply of new ones.
Dr. Pavlin met with local health officials to assist in enhanced surveillance for flood-related outbreaks. A simple form was developed for use by the Provincial Health Information Officer (PHIO) to inquire daily with all health facilities connected to the HF radio network. Review of surveillance forms and discussion with PHIO revealed minor increases in chicken pox, cough/whooping cough, diarrhea, and malaria in multiple health facilities, but no ongoing discreet outbreaks.
It was determined that medications, supplies, and mosquito nets are either already available in Daru or are en route; these supplies should be distributed at the same time as food relief supplies are provided. Some supplies destined for Wipim had been detained in Oriomo due to flooding, but it is now possible to complete the transfer of these supplies to their destination.
There is a possibility of increased vector-borne diseases such as malaria as a result of increased mosquito breeding sites. The PNG Red Cross Society is able to provide additional nets. Discussions are ongoing with Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM) for the same.
There are currently five Community Health Workers from remote aid posts who are in Daru because they have been unable to return to their health facilities.
Food was by far the greatest concern expressed by villagers in all three sites visited, particularly by mothers with reference to their children. As described in the FDAP, root crops and sago palms have been destroyed by floodwater inundation; also, caterpillars have destroyed much of the leafy vegetation (e.g., kang-kong and cassava leaves). To supplement their nutrition, villagers have taken to fishing and/or collecting coconuts to bring to market in Daru, to earn money with which to buy replacement foods (e.g., rice, flour). There was no evidence of acute starvation. Several households were preparing meals when they were visited.
The team noted that the nearby coastal areas visited, while in the 'priority one' zone, have two advantages that may not be present in other (particularly inland) areas within the 'priority one' zone. These advantages are 1) access to markets (due to proximity to Daru), which allows for nutritional supplementation to replace damaged food supplies, and 2) access to fish, which provide food and serve as a commodity which can be traded in market for other food items.
It should also be noted that there is currently a shortage of food staples (e.g., rice, flour, biscuits) in stores in Daru.
In Old Mawatta, the school had experienced floodwater inundation, which had by now drained and there was no evidence of structural damage. There was no mention of destruction of teaching supplies. School had not yet resumed, pending instruction from education authorities, though there is no physical reason why classes could not resume. In Kunini, teachers had resumed classes without waiting for instruction from education authorities.
There were no new protection issues identified as a result of the flood, or existing issues made worse by the flooding.
There has been a near complete absence of women in the disaster response efforts, which hampers the ability to identify gender-specific issues.
All three villages had means of communication with the outside world, through a combination of mobile phones, HF radio, and direct contact with Daru.
The three sites visited are within the area identified, by the FDAP, as highest priority / most affected by the flood. In spite of this, these sites have almost recovered to pre-flood status. These communities have been particularly resilient because of access to markets and access to goods, such as fish, to trade. Because inland communities (e.g., Suki) may not have these advantages, it is important to assess the current status of these other 'priority one' areas, prior to jumping to any conclusions about the overall status of the flood-affected areas.
The greatest need identified was for Food; there may be a need to provide supplemental nutrition to these areas, however there is no evidence of famine and therefore it will not be necessary to provide full (i.e., as anticipated in the FDAP) nutritional support. There will be a need to provide replacement seed stocks, etc., as described.
In the area of WASH, no acute water shortages were observed. As noted, there are areas in which water supply could be improved (e.g., installing catchments for roofs that do not have them, and distributing additional water containers) on a long-term basis in order to minimize shortage during the dry season.
The third major area of identified need is in Health, in that there are insufficient stocks of medicines and supplies in health centres. However, this appears to be an on-going issue. It is not cost-effective to create an emergency mechanism to provide medical supplies, as there are no new major health needs that have arisen since the flooding, and no changes to the chronic problem of supply shortages. The focus should be on efforts, by the Provincial Administration, to overcome barriers in routine supply mechanisms.
There will be a need for appropriate mechanisms to be put in place to assure that distribution of rations, supplies, etc., is done fairly.
It should be noted that the FDAP calls upon several agencies, such as WHO and PNGRCS, to fund the purchase of food relief. We have discussed with local authorities that this is not within the purview of these agencies. If the Government of PNG is unable to meet the identified needs after utilization of the PGK 16,000,000 for relief efforts presented to the Provincial Administration by the Prime Minister, additional support could be sought from other development partners.
As flooding has been identified as a seasonal event in this region, there is a need to improve preparedness and resilience for future floods.
These conclusions and Recommendations should be viewed in combination with the actions already proposed in the FDAP.
- Local authorities, through the assistance of the Health and Nutrition Cluster (coordinated by the World Health Organization), should identify expertise in nutritional support in emergencies, to provide guidance on appropriate quantity and quality of food supplements.
- Schools that have not resumed classes should do so immediately.
- To the extent possible, women should be included in the disaster response in order to improve identification and addressing of gender issues.
- Due to the limited area assessed during our mission, local authorities and/or partners should conduct rapid updated assessment in,at a minimum, one inland area within the 'priority one' zone, and possibly a representative site in 'priority two' and 'priority three' zones; aerial observation is not justified at this late stage, but a helicopter may be useful for rapid travel for assessment.
- Local authorities should continue to collect additional assessment data as part of anticipated food / supply distribution.
- Community Health Workers detained in Daru should return to their facilities as soon as possible, possibly during upcoming assessment or distribution missions.
- Local authorities should work to ensure that relief supplies are distributed fairly.
- Local authorities should provide mosquito nets to affected communities, with the assistance of partners such as PNGRCS and RAM
- Local authorities should provide water containers to affected communities, with the assistance of partners such as PNGRCS
- Local authorities, with assistance from partners such as PNGRCS and WHO, should conduct hygiene promotion activities (e.g., hygiene education, education on the use of latrines)
- Local and national authorities should work to improve healthcare supply chain management
- Local authorities, national authorities, and partners should promote preparedness for recurrent seasonal flooding; this preparedness could include:
- Introduction of flood-resistant crops
- Improved drainage
- Establishment of an agricultural nursery in Daru for restocking flood-affected areas
- Education for community resiliency (e.g., following the Red Cross CCP model)
- Building of flood-resistant (elevated) latrines
ANNEX 1: KEY PERSONS MET
Key Persons Met:
- William Goinau, Provincial Administrator
- BisuliOwame, Deputy Provincial Administrator / South Fly Disaster Comptroller
- Robin Moken, Advisor, DPLLGA
- Moses Ase, District Administrator
- Philip Gasudi, Provincial Disaster Coordinator
- Rosheila Dagina, National Department of Health
- Doboio Danu, Provincial Health Information Officer
- Norman Philemon, Provincial Disaster Officer (Madang)