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Thousands face food shortage

UP to 3000 people from the recent cyclone-Dona-affected islands of Vanikoro and Utupua in Temotu province are reportedly facing food shortage.

This is according to a primary school teacher at Vanikoro who relayed this via a HF Radio.

The teacher said over the past months, people face food shortage after the category two cyclone with a central pressure of 977 Hectopascals tore through Temotu province early May this year.

Chris Ashley, a Vanikoro elder said people have ventured into creating new gardens, but adds, it could take another three to six months before crops can be harvested.

“Our people are currently without food, the government through the National Disaster Council (NDC) or National Disaster Management Office have failed us,” protested Mr Ashley.

He said the cyclone has destroyed every food gardens of people on both islands, with a number of houses also destroyed.

Ashley said a team was sent to the islands and conducted an assessment but there were no relieve supplies send over to these affected communities to date.

“People in the affected communities have been waiting for any feedback from the NDMO since then. Our people are hungry, we want to hear from the government why we haven’t had any share of relief supplies.

“NDC must come out clear and explain why only Tikopia and Anuta received relief supplies but not Vanikoro and Utupua,” Mr Ashley said.

He adds: “We heard that the relief team returned to Honiara with the relief supplies such as rice and other goods.”

He said the NDMO assessment team landed at the islands several weeks after when people whose houses were destroyed have already rebuilt their homes.

“From my understanding this is not the first time, one of such similar happenings occurred back in 2013,” Ashley claimed.

Loti Yates the Director of National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) when reached over the matter yesterday, said: “There is a certain level of threshold that needs to be met before communities can receive support.”

He said all these depend on the decision of the assessors which consist of agriculture, fisheries, health, education and NDMO officers.

Mr Yates said people always have wrong perception, they should first approach the Provincial Disaster Office and hear from them concerning this.

He said the assessment team concluded that only three communities are entitled to receive relief supplies, which include Tikopia the hard hit island and Anuta.

When further asked on the situation of food shortage, the NDMO Director clarified that NDMO is not in the position to speak on that.

But he encouraged the people of Vanikoro and Utupua to firstly report the issue to Temotu Province Agriculture office in Lata.

“They have technical people there to go over to the two islands, assess the situation and report back to us before we can see what we can do next,” he said.

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