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The ash fall from the Lombenben volcano is creating another disaster on North Pentecost.
Villagers are facing a severe shortage of water. Daily Post was told that families who don’t have water tanks are paying Vt150-Vt200 (US$1.33 – US$1.78) per bucket of water from families with water tanks.
They ration the water and use it mainly for drinking, cooking and bathing children and babies.
Old men and women are no longer taking showers regularly. Doing laundry is necessary for babies and children, according to reports received by the Daily Post directly from Nazareth, North Pentecost.
“The ash fall from the volcano on Ambae also affects the sea and could affect marine life along the North Pentecost coastal areas,” a North Pentecost man who arrived in Port Vila by plane told the Daily Post.
“It poses problems for those who wish to bath in the sea and also to hunt for sea shells and go fishing. At this point we don’t know the extent of the damage the volcanic ashes could have on marine life, let alone the land, crops, and vegetation as almost everything on land is covered in whitish volcanic ashes.”
He said he came on a flight from Sara airport on North Pentecost, but he was not sure if the flights will continue due to volcanic ash falls.
“People are sick, especially with cough and flu,” he said.
The caller from Nazareth added: “If you want to go to the hospital at Abwatuntora, or take your family there for better medical treatment, you have to pay Vt1,500 or Vt2,000 (US$13 – US$17) per trip. This is not cheap, especially for average families who survive on subsistence farming and those who depend on kava plant products and copra”.
Asked which areas of North Pentecost are affected by volcanic ashes, the caller said the areas affected are the districts of Ahivo, Hurilau, and Aute.
There are fourteen villages in Aviho district of North Pentecost alone.
“As for the livestock; cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs are roaming around on dry, brown soil trying to find food to survive,” the north Pentecost man who came to Port Vila said.
“The situation is desperate, the people desperately need water, food and medical assistance.”
He said the situation has reached the stage where they need support of provincial and national Government’s support because food crops, vegetables and fruits were destroyed by the ash fall.
“We felt the full effect of the ash falls last Friday, it fell like rain and covered our homes, gardens, plants and grass. The Nazareth soccer field has turned from green to brown, and now turning reddish,” said a caller from North Pentecost.
He said children have stopped going to school because of insufficient water, road conditions and health problems.
He said visitors going to provide water, food and medical assistance will be ok, but any others should not attempt to visit North Pentecost at this time.
“We cannot bake food, because we do not have green leaves to bake food in,” he said.
“Firewood is not easy to get, because the paths to our gardens are heavily covered with volcanic ashes.
“Green crops are gone and traditional crops such as banana are affected, while cassava, yams and kumala (sweet potatoes) are there in the soil, but you have to remove the ashes from the top of the soil first, before digging to harvest the crops in the soil or ground.
“We humbly call on the provincial and the national government to help the people of north Pentecost,” he said.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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