Climate change hits low-lying islands in Bougainville

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'The continuous call for relief aid for the people of Nissan has fallen on deaf ears'...Conrad Willy, Nehan community government member. Image: UNDP

At least two children in the Nissan islands have been injured, falling off trees in desperate search for food, as climate change takes its toll on low-lying islands in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Despite repeated requests in the past 10-months, relief supplies have still not reached the Nissan district which, comprises of mostly atolls, said Nehan community government member Conrad Willy.

In June, a grade-six student at Pinepal fell from a mangrove tree as she was picking the mangrove beans to eat. She was rushed by dinghy to Buka General Hospital where she was treated and discharged.

Last Friday, four-and-a-half-year-old Raphael Alben fell from a coconut tree and broke both arms while searching for young coconuts.

Willy warned that more children would be hurt as their parents send them out to look for food.

Food shortages

He said the people started facing food shortages towards the end of last year.

-Partners-

Willy said that numerous reports had been presented to the disaster relief office in Bougainville, the community government office and members of parliament regarding the situation at the atolls, but they had not been addressed.

Willy approached the Post-Courier and raised this issue again. He said the newspaper had been running reports on the food shortage faced by the district.

‘Relying on sago’

‘People had been relying on sago because the staple cassava had been destroyed,’ he said.

“We tried planting sweet potato at this time but with the south westerly winds, the salt spray from the sea is destroying sweet potato and banana gardens. Now we are only relying on sago.”

A meeting between the families, the Nissan district executive manager and the Bougainville member for Nissan is planned for Monday to address the food situation.

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