MEDIA RELEASE

16th August 2016 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Albury Man Aids Drought-affected in Papua New Guinea

A severe drought, brought on by the effects of El Niño weather patterns, left 162,000 people facing extreme food shortages in Papua New Guinea this year. But one Albury resident helped deliver emergency relief and clean drinking water to some of those most affected.

Water and sanitation engineer Charles Knight, 64, returned from Port Moresby last week after spending six months deployed with international emergency response agency RedR Australia.

Since February, Charles has been coordinating the distribution of emergency relief supplies like buckets, jerry cans, tarpaulins, and aqua tabs to purify water to the affected areas. He also project managed the drilling of bore holes and installation of hand pumps in eight schools in the remote highlands to ensure a sustainable drinking supply and improve sanitation.

RedR Australia deploys experts into emergencies to support their United Nations partners and Charles was sent to support the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Thanks to his efforts, more than 7000 school children now have access to a sustainable clean drinking supply year round.

“Last month, I was at Maria Kwin Primary School in Jiwaka province and we installed a pump for drinking purposes. They had two 9000 litre water tanks but with 1400 students and 100 teaching staff and their families who live on site, that would run out in a week,” Mr Knight said.

“Just seeing their smiling faces was wonderful. I get such gratification to see hundreds of kids around the bore just waiting for the water to flow. In Australia, you can’t imagine how exciting it is to get a water supply and sanitation like this, as we just take for granted that these will be in our schools.”

 One of the biggest challenges facing locals in PNG is access to clean water.

 “Only 13% of PNG’s rural population have access to improved sanitation and only 20% have access to improved water so these kids are lucky,” Charles said.

RedR Australia receives funding from the Australian government to respond to international emergencies, deploying experts like Charles to deliver help where it is needed most.

“We have three other people responding to the drought in PNG but, across the globe, we’ve sent 23 people to respond to El Niño-induced droughts and floods in 12 countries over the past year,” RedR Australia spokeswoman Katrina Peach said.

“Our experts have included engineers like Charles, logistics specialists and emergency coordinators,” she said.

RedR Australia’s experts support people during natural disasters and conflict. We currently have 35 experts in the field responding to a range of emergencies including famine in Ethiopia, Cyclone Winston in Fiji, the earthquake recovery in Nepal and conflicts in Palestine and the Central African Republic.

RedR Australia is a leading international emergency relief agency that provides surge support for United Nations agencies during natural disasters and conflict-induced crises. RedR is a registered charity and receives funding support from the Australian and UK Governments and through public donations.

 

For further information or to interview Charles Knight, please contact Katrina Peach: 03 83412666 / 0414 684 664 or email communications@redr.org.au.