Farmers battle effects of changing seasons

By Oxfam

As the seasons shift in Papua New Guinea, yields of coffee, the only revenue source for many communities in the Highlands, are dropping. James Gigmai, a village leader from Chimbu Province said, Twenty-five or 30 years ago we used to say that June and December were coffee harvest times. Now, it's unpredictable. We have short harvests three or four times a year, but little coffee."

Other problems are emerging too, such as malaria, which was never seen in the Highlands, but has migrated there due to warmer temperatures. Memories of surviving by eating ferns during the severe El Niño drought in 1997-98 are also still sharp. El Niño is expected again in four or five years; next time, the drought that comes with it could be worse.

Oxfam and its partners are teaching communities to grow diverse crops that are more tolerant to weather extremes and helping people to be able to store food during scarce times. Oxfam also works with communities on emergency preparedness, to help people get through the more severe cyclones, floods, droughts and crises that will inevitably come.

Harry Gubala, Disaster Management Officer for Oxfam's Papua New Guinea Program, explains, "Climate change will affect everybody in the country. There will be nowhere you can go to get away from it. What we need is to provide people with adaptive techniques and skills and policies."