International Humanitarian Day 2018

Celebrating the International Humanitarian Day: PNG Highlands Earthquake Response

The International Humanitarian Day (IHD) falls on August 19.

It is a day set aside to celebrate and create awareness on the efforts of aid workers worldwide; many of whom risk their lives to serve the vulnerable in a wide variety of situations.

In February 2018 at 3:00 am local time, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook the Highlands of Papua New Guinea displacing an estimated 270,000 people.

The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks in 5 districts of 4 Highlands provinces including parts of the Western and Gulf Provinces.

Displaced and injured survivors were in need of immediate relief assistance; two of the most affected provinces were Hela and Southern Highlands (SHP) as they were right next to the central point of the earthquake.

Its aftermath rendered difficulty in transportation, major airstrips in SHP and Hela Provinces extended the struggle of delivering aid assistance.

Both local and International NGOs, stakeholders and Governments within the Asia – Pacific region responded to the plight of the survivors.

World Vision and its partners responded to three target areas in SHP which were Bosavi Station, Muluma Station and Fogomaiyu all of which are located within the Bosavi Local Level Government (LLG). World Vision focused on addressing the immediate water, and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs faced by survivors.

The Evangelical Church of PNG (ECPNG) played an important role in assisting World Vision realise its relief assistance goals as it had an existing network of schools, health clinics and churches in the locality.

The partnership followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between ECPNG and World Vision on April 27, 2018. The aim of the MoU was to strengthen the working relationship between the church and the INGO to continue the relief assistance and recovery partnership.

Prior to the signing of the MoU between ECPNG and World Vision,  9 subsidised flights provided by the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) proved extremely valuable in transporting much needed relief Items to the survivors.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) also supported World Vision to transport NFIs in the initial stages of the earthquake. SIL assisted in the first delivery of 125 NFIs to six villages in the Bosavi area.

World Vision distributed non-food items (NFIs) to survivors comprised of water containers, aqua tabs or water purification tablets, fleece blankets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits.

Twenty seven communities in the Bosavi LLG received relief assistance from World Vision comprising of 6 communities in Bosavi, 16 communities  in Muluma and another 5 communities in Fogomaiyu; beneficiaries  from these relief efforts  is estimated at 3000 people.

Apart from the distribution of NFIs and household kits, World Vision aid workers also conducted awareness on hygiene, sanitation and proper management of water sources as well as giving basic tips on the correct ways of using water purification tablets. Similar awareness exercises were conducted in all distribution points.

World Vision is currently doing assessments in earthquake affected areas for the recovery and rehabilitation phase of the response. With support from the New Zealand Government, World Vision will be delivering water, sanitation and hygiene support through the repair or construction of sanitation and water supply facilities, as well as education activities around hygiene promotion.