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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Drought continues in Papua New Guinea

In a country that usually enjoys adequate rainfall, the parched soil now has lost not only its water but also its nutrients. More than half of Papua New Guinea's 4 million people rely on the sweet potato, but drought and related forest fires have all but wiped out the crop.

Some sweet-potato vines have green leaves. But when the tuber is pulled from the ground, it's rotten, damaged by insects or pitifully small.

An estimated 300,000 people don't have enough food, and half of them are near starvation, say reports from Papua New Guinea.

Action by Churches Together (the relief agency of the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea have distributed 162 tons of food to 5,427 families and expect to distribute 20 additional tons soon.

The ELCA Division for Global Mission so far has sent $40,000 for relief. "We are unable to send more because of a deficit in the International Disaster Response reserve," says Belletech Deressa from the division. "If we don't receive income for international disasters, we cannot respond."

About 40 percent of the affected population is made up of children below the age of 15, and 90 percent of the farmers in the drought-stricken villages are subsistence farmers, reports Nils Carstensen from ACT.


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