In Papua New Guinea, following last month’s earthquake and despite powerful aftershocks, humanitarian supplies – including basic shelter, water and food – are continuing to reach impacted communities.
Immediately after the initial quake, ExxonMobil, the operator of Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG), helicoptered large tents, water purification equipment and water containers to victims of the disaster. The goods were transported to Moro, in the Southern Highlands Province, with a portion distributed to impacted communities there. Most of these supplies were then ferried farther north to Hela Province, home of PNG LNG’s Hides Gas Conditioning Plant, and close to the quake’s epicenter.
ExxonMobil employees have been supporting relief efforts by coordinating closely with government disaster response teams, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign governments. Within days of the quake striking, ExxonMobil helicoptered a group of 10 aid agency experts and disaster assessors to the area – one of the first visits possible there.
“Many in the area have been displaced from their homes and are afraid to go back due to the aftershocks. The immediate challenge was locating where groups of people were gathering and mobilizing support to get to them,” said Sisa Kini, who oversees community development support at PNG LNG.
Recently, with the project’s Komo Airfield in Hela severely damaged by the quake, a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 plane transported 20 tons of food purchased by ExxonMobil – enough to feed 4,700 households for a month – to Moro to aid impacted communities.
ExxonMobil has also announced $1 million in financial support for the purchase of additional supplies for ongoing relief and recovery operations to be conducted by aid agencies working in the impacted areas.
A number of ExxonMobil’s community investments made before the quake struck have helped communities cope more quickly with this natural disaster. In the town of Para, in Hela Province, a health care facility jointly built by ExxonMobil and the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea is providing emergency medical care to some of the quake victims.
One sustainable agricultural program in Hela Province, launched in 2014 by PNG LNG in partnership with Australian National University Enterprise (ANUE), will help supply fresh vegetables to recovering communities by replanting food gardens. ANUE plans to deploy teams back on the ground shortly to assist some 2,500 families in planting quick-growing corn seed. ANUE will also supply vegetative cuttings of sweet potato and cassava, which take longer to grow, as well as garden tools.
The humanitarian deployment of supplies is helping local communities get back on their feet. Longer term, ExxonMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry says that once back online, PNG LNG will continue to strengthen the economy with jobs and investments and play its part in driving Papua New Guinea’s long-term recovery. “We need to restore normalcy for our workforce, help our nearby communities recover and contribute important revenue for the country,” Barry explained.
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