National Disaster Management Office awaits reports on Ontong Java food shortage


The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Honiara is yet to receive any reports from Malaita Province concerning the food shortage crisis in Ontong Java, Malaita Outer Islands.

Lawrence Makili, Chairman of the Lord Howe community in Honiara, attributes the ongoing food shortage to the Electoral Commission and lack of consistent shipping to the islands.

Islanders have embarked on perilous journeys, covering approximately 467 kilometers to Honiara and even to Isabel Provincial township, Buala, in search of food supplies.

Climate change has ravaged their root crops, exacerbating the critical situation.

The lack of ships servicing the islands over the past five months has left residents in dire need during the Christmas and New Year period.

NDMO’s Alenge Katoravu mentioned that he only became aware of the issue through a report in the Island Sun newspaper yesterday.

Katoravu emphasized that there has been no formal report from the Malaita Provincial government to address the situation.

He highlighted that the food shortage in Malaita Outer Islands is a longstanding issue resulting from climate change affecting their swamp taro and gardens.

The vulnerability of the islands, which experience saltwater intrusion during high tides, has further hampered their ability to replant.

Katoravu noted that the food shortage was compounded by the absence of consistent shipping services to the islands, preventing people in Honiara from sending food to the affected areas.

Despite these challenges, he acknowledged past efforts by the National Government to support the vulnerable communities.

Makili pointed out that franchised ships under the Ministry of Infrastructure Development have failed to serve Ontong Java and Sikaiana adequately.

He stressed the importance of franchises adhering to their commitments, suggesting that regular monthly services to the Atolls are essential.

According to Makili, the route for Sikaiana is serviced by MV Ortega, operating smoothly, while the route for Ontong Java, serviced by MV Carolina, has been problematic for almost five months.

The franchise’s failure to fulfill its commitment has created difficulties for the people of Ontong Java.

Contrary to Makili’s claims, the Permanent Secretary of MID, Stephen Maesiola, expressed unawareness of franchise ships neglecting Ontong Java and Sikaiana.

He asserted that franchise shipping services for Malaita Outer Islands are still operational.

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