Yasur acid rainfall causes major damage to food gardens

The Tafea Provincial Disaster Office says acid rainfall from Mt Yasur Volcano last month has caused significant damage to food gardens in the White Sands community on Tanna Island.

Johnny Taio, from the National Disaster Management Office, says Mt Yasur Volcano remains at the Level Two ‘major unrest’ alert level and last month’s acid rain has damaged the community’s corn, manioc and banana gardens.

Mr Taio, is calling on families from Tanna who are residing in other islands in Vanuatu, especially in Port Vila, to provide food and support to families back at White Sands who have been affected by the ashfall and acid rain.

“Those who have families back at White Sands, if you have a small amount of food or money, please support those families who are affected by the disaster,” Mr Taio said.

“I am preparing a report following information I have just received from the communities of Lownou and Lounasunen which are the most affected by the ashfall and will send the report to the National Disaster Management Office in Port Vila.

“A rapid assessment team will come to Tanna and make some assessments in the area, to allow for the second delivery of food supplies.”

Mr Taio says a second push of emergency food to help families affected by the volcanic ashfall was suspended due to the 40 years Independence celebrations, but will be reactivated.

He says the people in the White Sands area who are already under financial pressure, are having to buy food at the Lenakel Market.

“In the past many people in the area made money from tourists who came to visit Mt Yasur Volcano, but now with COVID-19 pandemic, many find it hard to make money,” Mr Taio said.

“And now they are really in need of food.”

The Secretary General for Tafea Province, Joe Iautim, says his office has not yet received a report about the acid rainfall.

He says the provincial government will not act if it does not get official information.

“As soon as we get the report, the National Disaster Management Office and the Department of Agriculture will carry out an assessment to check if the information about the impacts of acid rainfall on the island is accuratee,” Mr Iautim said.

“People must understand that there are two zones in the White Sands area.

“Zone One, is the area that is affected every year by the ashfall and Zone Two is in the western part of Tanna.”

Mr Iautim says social media can make a small thing seem big so it is good for the reports to follow the proper channels.

He says Tafea Province will help the people if they get the report and it shows help is needed.

Mr Taio appeals to communities of White Sands area on Tanna to boil water before they drink it, in order to stay safe.

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