Residents of Niupani village in East Rennell have formed a disaster committee following a one-week workshop conducted by staff of the National Disaster Management Office mid July this year.

The chairman of the committee is Moses Tegeta, the secretary/treasurer is Miriam Tipaika, the project officer is Stuart Tahua and the committee members are; Michael Mana, Daniel Kaitu'u, Joy Kamuika and Edna Tetango.

Project Officer Stuart Tahua told NDMO that they formed the Niupani village disaster committee immediately after the workshop at the Kia koe lodge in July this year.

Tahua said that following information recieved, the committee members conducted two awareness talks in Tebaitahe and Niupani villages on the 7th and 8th August.

He also revealed that during the awareness talks, residents of the two villages now realize that they have a big part to play in disaster risk management and disaster management.

Tahua also said that an issue which most people highlighted during the awareness talks were the taro problems communities had been experiencing for sometime.

The people said they are worried because taro is an important staple food, however since the level of Lake Tegano has been rising recently, it has and is continuing to affect their taro planting swamps.

Tahua stated that currently there are no planting swamps as they are under water.

The people also said it is not only the level rise that is affecting their taro but other new strange taro diseases.

He said although agriculture staff in the province had already assessed the problems, they are yet to give them the results of tests they reportedly sent overseas.

Tahua also said given the seriousness of the problem with taro, their staple diet, communities who are affected by the rise of the lake are appealing to the NDMO to do something about.

However, NDMO Director Loti Yates said the Ministry of Agriculture is the right Ministry to take up the problem from here.

Yates said staff conducted a disaster risk training workshop at Lake Tengano in July but this does not mean they have to assess the problems associated with taro because it is a technical issue which would be best addressed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, Conservation and Meteorology.

"These two Ministries have expertise to deal with that kind of situation, not NDMO," said Yates.

However, he also added that this does not mean NDMO will let go of its responsibility.

"We will constantly work with the two Ministries if and when they come up with plans to address the problems highlighted by the east Rennell communities, and where needed, will come in. At the moment, it is those two partner Ministries who will need to take the lead," he concluded.

Press Release (NDMO)