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Papua New Guinea: Volcanic Activity - Emergency Plan of Action Operation Update n° 1; DREF n° MDRPG007

Papúa Nueva Guinea
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Description of the disaster

The remote Kadovar Island volcano became active on 5 January 2018 with mild volcanic activity on the south-eastern side of the island. The Governor’s office conducted an aerial assessment and observed lava flow on the island with an estimated 50-60 per cent of the island covered in lava. The entire population has been relocated to Blup Blup Island, which is an island of about 800 people.

As of 6 January, prevailing wind conditions have carried ash clouds west of Kadovar island. Kadovar (Kadowar) is a small island belonging to the cluster of islands referred to as Schouten Islands. Kadovar is approximately 100km from Wewak (line of sight) and 24km to nearest point on mainland East Sepik province. Kadovar is part of Wewak Island Rural LLG in Wewak District, East Sepik Province.

Since 6 January, the Wewak district administration has been working with the East Sepik provincial administration and the MP for Wewak to organize an evacuation. The MP for Wewak indicated that there were no district funds available currently as government accounts had yet to open for 2018. The National Disaster Centre (NDC) is currently coordinating closely with East Sepik provincial administration on establishing the current situation. On 7 January, a provincial assessment team was deployed. The NDC and East Sepik provincial administration are presently awaiting findings from the deployed assessment team.

The population of Kadovar were evacuated to Blup Blup Island on 12 January 2018. They received initial support from provincial government and PNG defence force. They were then moved to the Dan Dan care centre (south of Wewak) from 14-17 January 2018.

Situation at the Dan Dan Care Centre

Total number of people affected in Kadovar Island was 736, who were self-evacuated to Blup Blup Island. Later PNG government moved all of them from Blup Island to be re-settled in Dan Dan Care centre, however a number of the affected population chose to move to other locations with their relatives/wontalk. As of now, there are a total of 557 affected population at the Dan Dan care centre. This comprises of five community groups, the villages of Manot, Taragauo, Dong Sarakbano, Niukatnam and Rumgio, with a total of 145 families.

The care centre is quite well organised given the short amount of time and limited resources. Each community has its own designated area within the total space of this site. The care centre occupies a flat area in a small bay surrounded by large hills that is approximately 3.2 hectares in size. The area is subject to being flooded by either king tides or large rainfall and runoff from the surrounding hills. It is mostly sandy and slightly soft or swampy underfoot in certain areas.

Due to the confined space multiple families are sharing tarpaulins as there is not enough land for individual family sites.

Most families have raised platforms off the ground for sleeping. Walking paths have been made along the front and back of the camp with small trails between tarpaulin tents within each community area. Each community area is identified by signs at the entrance to their area. At this stage there are only two pit latrines per village area and very limited natural water supply from creeks at either end of the site. There is currently only one generator in the location controlled by government officials with one large flood light to provide lighting. None of the communities have access to individual or community lighting within their tents, in communal areas or for using latrines at night.