16 July, 2019

In February 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake devastated the Southern Highlands of PNG. The mountainous area was completely isolated. 544,000 people were affected, 26,000 were left without a home, and 200 people were killed. Homes and other vital infrastructure crumbled, and locals were faced with the enormous task of cleaning up and rebuilding.

ADRA and the Adventist Aviation Services partnered to fly food kits into remote areas that were not accessible by road and by providing communities with hygiene kits.

As the severity of the earthquake was realised, ADRA secured funding from the Australian and New Zealand Governments to focus on community rehabilitation with the goal of ‘building back better.’

With ADRA’s help to access clean water, to build latrines, and to provide psychological support, the people of the highlands began the long and tedious process of rebuilding.

ADRA’s regional humanitarian coordinator, Michael Peach, recently visited the affected areas and was blown away by the change he witnessed.

“Most of my interactions with communities occur immediately after a disaster, where food, water and shelter are critical,” Michael says. “It’s not often I get to see the long-term impact, or attend community events to celebrate recovery and rehabilitation milestones.”

Community in PNG Highlands

The community in PNG that Michael visited

In particular, the impact of water has been transformational. “For many mountain communities, their only access to water is a two-hour walk down to the river in the valley, limiting how much water they can carry back up the steep paths,” says Michael. “Inevitably, water is prioritised for drinking and cooking, not for toilets and bathing.”

But, thanks to your generosity in partnership with ADRA, these villages now have fresh water and improved hygiene and sanitation practices. “Talking with the community about how this has impacted their life is a very emotional experience,” Michael says.

PNG Locals using their tippy tap to wash their hands

Locals using their tippy tap to wash their hands

But while the majority of houses have been rebuilt, road repairs and many larger community buildings like churches and schools, still require a lot of attention. And, according to Michael, the emotional impact of the earthquake is still tangible.

“Many people fear further earth tremors,” he says.

It is thanks to our generous supporters that ADRA is able to help people affected by disasters such as these.

If you would like to help ADRA prepare for and respond to disasters, please consider making a monthly commitment to ADRA’s Preparedness and Response Fund. Contact us on 1800 242 372 for more information, or visit adra.org.au/donate.

Tags:  Blog, Disaster, PNG,