Manam Volcano, on an island off the coast of Madang province in northern Papua New Guinea, erupted early in the morning of 25 August. Lava and ash are affecting nine of 13 villages on the island, which has a population of about 7,000 people. As of 28 August, two of these villages, Dangale (239 people) and Kolang (143 people), have been evacuated to unaffected locations on the island.
Manam is one of PNG’s most active volcanoes. In 2004, a series of eruptions resulted in the evacuation of more than 9,000 people to care centres on the mainland. Unresolved issues around their resettlement from the 2004 displacement make people who have already experienced displacement and chosen to return reluctant to leave the island and go back to living in care centres on the mainland.
The volcano is active and continues to emit light to moderate ash. Further significant eruptions are possible. Accurate monitoring of the volcano is not possible at the moment because the equipment of the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory is undergoing maintenance. Heavy ash fall has also affected nearby Boisa Island, home to 872 people.
On 5 January, volcanic activity on Kadovar Island, one of the six Schouten Islands of Papua New Guinea, prompted all 591 residents to evacuate. The islanders have been relocated to the Dandan Care centre, located in Turubu LLG (East Sepik Province). The 3.5 hectare site is located on a narrow strip of land physically bound by steep hills on the inland side and the sea. The ground is low-lying and sandy. It is prone to flooding during heavy rains as two running creeks (flowing from inland) flow through either side of the site as they flow out to sea. Access to the main planned resettlement site (of approximately 40 hectares) remains an outstanding issue.
On 25 February an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit Papua New Guinea (PNG) affecting mainly Southern Highlands, Hela, Western Highlands, Western Province, and Enga provinces. The affected area is mountainous and remote, although impact has been reported in Mendi city, almost 100km away. An estimated 274,600 people are within 50km of the epicentre. Approximately 326,000 people are estimated to be very strongly impacted, according to the Modified Mercalli Scale. Initial reports are limited but there are indications of urgent needs, including for health, shelter and WASH assistance. Various impact, including damage, casualties and landslides, has been reported in at least seven locations: Hides, Porgera, Mendi, Nipa-Kutubu, Tari-Pori, and Huilya.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is prone to numerous natural hazards. Natural hazards include: volcanic eruptions; earthquakes; tropical cyclones; landslides; flooding; sporadic droughts; tsunamis; frosts in highland areas; rising sea levels. Disasters continually hamper the development process in urban and remote rural locations. Statistics fail to cover the multitude of often unreported smaller disasters, such as localised landslides and floods. These low level, chronic disasters have a disproportionate impact on the poorest and most isolated communities in PNG.
Several worrying development trends are exacerbating the impact of these disasters. PNG has seen a large population growth, from 3 million people in 1980 to more than 7 million in 2012. Urban-rural migration is on the rise and the cash economy is becoming increasingly important, leaving those who depend on barter and trade unable to access (paid) services such as education, health and transport. PNG suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the world, and violence and sexual abuse against women and children is a major protection concern.