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IRIN | UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

THE GOVERNMENT OF Papua New Guinea has bolstered its funding for disaster preparedness, strengthening the country’s National Disaster Management Centre (NDC) to better respond to crises.

“This is a positive development and one we hope will continue,” said Ruger Kahwa, head of office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The PNG government allocated K50 million kina to the NDC in 2013, chief government advisor Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc confirmed.

Since 2006, the NDC has been working with a budget of only K3 million annually.

Though pleased with the increase, NDC hopes that this is not a one-off allocation by the government.

“I have discussed this with the relevant government agencies, and I have taken this up with the deputy prime minister (Leo Dion) and made it known to them that this level of funding should be sustained for as long as we exist,” Martin Mose, the NDC director, said.

Mose and his team of 10 people in Port Moresby, the capital, are now working to utilize the additional funds for programmes they had shelved for years, including capacity building for communities, response and equipping provincial disaster offices.

“Our response to natural disasters has improved a lot this year. Half the year is gone, and we have [already] spent K10 million ($4.3 million) of that money on relief operations,” he said, citing heavy rains, landslides and flooding in the first quarter of 2013.

According to the World Bank, PNG is highly susceptible to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Global climate change has increased the occurrence of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, threatening the population, food security and causing economic disruption in rural areas.

According to government figures, in the first half of 2013, more than 100,000 people were affected by disasters in PNG, mostly flooding in 15 provinces, resulting in nine deaths, six injuries and more than 600 people being temporarily displaced.

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