The geographical location of Papua New Guinea on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" contributes to the vulnerability of PNG to the effects of natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and drought.

The most recent natural disasters to affect Papua New Guinea were the Highlands Earthquake in February 2018, which affected some 544,000 people, the eruption of a volcano on Kadovar Island, which displaced the islands entire population of some 600 people to Dandan care centre on the PNG mainland. On 25 August, the volcano on Manam Island erupted, displacing approximately 2,000 people. 

Polio was reconfirmed in PNG in July 2018. New confirmed cases were reported by national authorities and WHO in September.?

INFORM measures PNG's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster as ‘high', 5.6/10, and its coping capacity index is 7.6/10. ?

Latest Developments

08/12: Lava and ashfall affected up to 3,800 people living in the northeast (Bokure, Warisi, Kolang) and northwest (Kuluguma, Boda, Baliayau) of the island following an eruption of the Manam Volcano on 8 December. At least 650 people were displaced from Kolang village to informal settlements. As lava and ash damaged substance crops and water sources, WASH, health and food needs are likely.?

07/12: Water levels have dropped significantly in South Fly district of the western province due to prolonged dry conditions, forcing schools to close and villagers to cross to Indonesia in search for water. Southern regions and parts of the highland provinces have received lower than normal rainfall since September. An anticipated moderate El Nino event is likely to exacerbate the situation. ?

05/12: An increase of suicide attempts among refugees is indicative of rising mental health concerns on Manus island. Over the past two weeks 27 attempts were recorded. A lack of qualified health workers, medication, and trauma counselling impacts both refugees and host communities.?


Key priorities

Shelter: Around 60,000 households are reported to be in need of shelter assistance.

Food Security: 153,000 food insecure people.

WASH: approximately 312,000 people are estimated to be in need of WASH assistance in the highlands.

Information Gaps and needs

  • Assessments in the Highlands are ongoing and still some specific information on sectoral needs is not yet available. Some areas remain inaccessible.