I’m pleased to report, now returned from two months back in the field this past summer, that Gebusi have survived and recovered remarkably well from the catastrophic drought that impacted them earlier this year and in 2015. Below is a photo of Sayu holding the shell of a large turtle he caught at the bottom of a large river at the height of the drought. (The hard part of the shell shown is only about 60% of its original size, which was filled out by cartilage that doesn’t last.) Sayu and his friends caught seven of these huge turtles — and managed to transport them by boat all the way back to Gasumi Corners, so the entire village could eat their massive protein in a big feast at the height of the drought. This reflects Gebusi ingenuity in adapting to environmental stress — and their commitment to help each other as a collective community. Viva Gebusi!
***March 2016: To view an updated video presentation concerning the Gebusi’s severe drought and food shortage — including in relation to our own planned attempt to return to Gebusi this coming May and June — click HERE***
Subject: Fund for North Fly relief effort
A food relief effort for the peoples of the Nomad area, including the Gebusi, is now being organized by Dr. Emma Gilberthorpe. See further info below! Best, -Bruce K
.Dear friends and colleagues
As you know, PNG’s Western Province has suffered the terrible consequences of the recent drought. I have set up a crowdfunding page (link below) to try and raise some money to assist with the relief effort. Whilst the situation is improving it remains dire, and remote regions have limited access to food. There are people on the ground in Tabubil and Kiunga to disseminate the funds we raise and organise transportation to remote regions. Please, please give generously. Do not hesitate to contact me if you either have questions or have a suggestion/request for where relief efforts should be focussed.
Many, many thanks
Dr Emma Gilberthorpe
Senior Lecturer in Development Anthropology
School of International Development
University of East Anglia
Norwich, NR4 7TJ
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591883
January 27, 2016
The continuing El Nino drought in the South Pacific has hit the country of Papua New Guinea very hard — and Gebusi are located in one of two select pockets of the country where food shortage, potential starvation, and increased death rates appear to be worst. For details, view the Jan 25 PNG drought report video for details. The first part of the video describes the general PNG situation and conditions in the worst areas such as the eastern part of the Western Province, where Gebusi live. The second part features a missionary who has long association with the Gebusi’s neighbors, the Bedamini people. She describes food shortage that is quite severe in areas that include Gebusi. Highest hopes are that government food relief flights can be arranged to this general area. As the first part of the segment notes, this is very expensive given the remoteness of the area and the difficulty of local airstrips (such as the Nomad airstrip, which remains closed). My fervent hope and wish is that government and relief organizations can get food to Gebusi and neighboring peoples — and that my Gebusi friends, with whom I now have no contact, are using their bush skills and know-how to somehow adapt and survive in the interim, during these extremely challenging conditions. My own planned trip to visit Gebusi next month is necessarily on hold — until flights within Western Province are reestablished and Gebusi themselves have recovered enough to return to their main villages. Let us all hope the best for them, and all those who are suffering from major food shortage in PNG and other areas at the present time.
The 2015 El Nino drought in the South Pacific is having an unfortunately major impact on climate and also on subsistence in New Guinea — including the Western Province of Papua New Guinea where the Gebusi reside. Information is hard to come by, but drought conditions are severe and most people in rainforest areas are said to be resorting to starvation foods and trying to survive on a restricted diet. Of course we wish the best for our Melanesian friends, and hope that this drought will be over, as predicted, by late winter or early spring, 2016.