An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale devastated large parts of Papua New Guinea on February 26. The country also experienced more than 130 aftershocks, many greater than 6.0 magnitude. Because of the remoteness and lack of access to large parts of the country, assessing the extent of damage was difficult. The quake, and resulting landslides and collapsing walls, killed more than 100 people, with reports of casualties still being confirmed. More than 544,000 people were affected, with approximately 230,000 in need of immediate assistance.
Shelter, health, water, sanitation, and hygiene services and protection
Damage to storage facilities and water sources have resulted in scarcity of safe drinking water. Hospitals have also been affected with lack of water and power interruptions. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and have no access to their gardens, their primary food sources. The existing gender gap in the country has meant women and girls have been particularly affected by this disaster. There are concerns that the disaster will increase protection risk and exacerbate the already high rate of gender abuse in the country. In addition, women and children, the most likely tasked to fetch water, have to travel longer distances to find some.
To improve access to health, hygiene, protection, education and shelter, with a focus on supporting women, girls and people with a disability.
-Provide hygiene and sanitation items to affected households, prioritizing women, girls and other vulnerable groups.
-Lead public health awareness campaigns focusing on healthy individual and family behaviour and identifying and reporting public health issues, particularly cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea.
-Support infrastructure improvements for damaged health centres.
-Support training for community health workers and other staff on providing lifesaving maternal and child health services and sexual, reproductive health services.
-Provide educators with training on child protection, health and hygiene.
-Support procurement of building supplies to help rebuild schools
-Provide shelter materials (eg. saws, nails, hammers) and training to help survivors rebuild their homes to be more earthquake resistant.
Since 2016, in response to El Nino, CARE has built a strong presence in the country. It has teams already in place conducting assessments, interviews and aid distribution. CARE will build on its experiences providing food, water, sanitation, hygiene and health services during the El Nino crisis. Through a coordination hub CARE supported during the 2016 response, CARE has developed close working relationships with provincial and national authorities.