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Drought prompts food insecurity in Papua New Guinea

More than 6,000 people on a remote island cluster off the coast of Papua New Guinea are suffering from food insecurity after a prolonged dry spell, IRIN reports.

Although rainfall records are not kept for this remote area, other islands close by typically experience a crucial rainy season from May to September when many farmers plant their crops of sweet potato, banana and taro. However, this year's rainy season didn't come, making it impossible for farmers to keep their crops.

"Because of the very hot sun, everything was wiped out," Franklin Leslie, coordinator of aid distribution for the Government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville told the news outlet. "There was a water shortage, and the coconut plants went dry so people could not drink coconut water either."

For now, government officials and humanitarian groups have been distributing food and water to those on the island and will continue to do so over the next few months.

"The situation is now under control, but these people will need food in three months," Ruger Kahwa, head of the Humanitarian Support Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the news source.

For the future, the National Agriculture Research Institute is working to develop plans to establish food banks and better agriculture systems to aid citizens should this type of disaster occur again.
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