Social Concerns Notes – December 2015

Saying no to family violence

The National, Friday November 27th, 2015

THE district courts granted 1,182 interim protection orders to domestic violence survivors last year alone, as the Government works to improve the prosecution of offenders. Department of Justice and Attorney General acting deputy secretary Roselyn Gwaibo said family and sexual violence was a pervasive problem for many countries, “and PNG is no exception”.  “We all know of someone – a friend, a wantok or a colleague – who is regularly suffering from violence at home,” Gwaibo said.

“This cannot be acceptable. There is never any excuse for it and it is a terrible abuse.” She said a recent study showed 68 per cent of women employees experienced an average of eight gender-based violence incidents during the past year. “Family and sexual violence ruins lives. It permanently scares children and hinders their growth into responsible adults,” she said. “In multiple ways, family and sexual violence stops PNG from moving forward as a country.”

“We all have to do whatever we can to stop this cycle of violence repeating itself. This also means that the Government and NGOs must work together and play their part,” Gwaibo said. “The law is only ever going to be part of the answer. The Family Protection Act came into operation in 2014. Regulations under the act will be made shortly.” Police have established 14 family and sexual violence units around the country.

 

Concern as illegal booze in Bougainville triggers violence

23 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/concern-as-illegal-booze-in-bougainville-triggers-violence.html#more

A BOUGAINVILLE women’s agency says there has been a surge in illicit alcohol use as Christmas approaches and more gender violence as a result. Helen Hakena, who runs the Leitana Nehan Women’s group in the autonomous province, says the illegal manufacture of homebrew seems worse than in previous years. She says she is particularly worried by the numbers of young people consuming the drink and the threat it poses to the peace process. “Living in the village I see so many women, families are brewing homebrew alcohol and that is easily accessible by young people,” Ms Hakena said. “Beginning around two weeks ago there was a lot of drinking, fighting and that is causing a lot of concern for us mothers. And gender based violence has increased as well.” Ms Hakena says attempts by police to try and curb the practice by stopping people from accessing yeast or by removing their gas bottles are easily got around. Previously, Bougainville vice president Patrick Nisira had exposed the rampant use of marijuana in the province. Mr Nisira said marijuana was the single biggest problem facing the province with up to 80% of people smoking it. Ms Hakena agreed and said, coupled with homebrew, marijuana was at the root of much of the domestic violence in the province.

Ms Hakena called for more effort to go into finding work opportunities for the province’s youth.

 

Watson: Churches do more

The National, Friday November 27th, 2015

GLOBAL leaders are realising that churches are doing more to address HIV than any other single organisation or group, according to UNAIDS country director Stuart Watson.

During a function by the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/AIDS on Tuesday, Watson said PNG was part of the world that came together in September this year at the United Nations headquarters in New York to commit to sustainable development goals. He said for AIDS, the objective was to end the epidemic by 2030. This ambition stood on the foundation of an unprecedented public health and human rights response that had prevented 30 million HIV infections, and almost 16 million people accessing antiretroviral around the world.  “PNG has achieved the third highest rate of treatment initiation in the Asia-Pacific region, a remarkable achievement for the country, something that we should be proud of,” Watson said. He said the great achievement was through the contribution made by churches.

 

Lae mass burial

Post Courier, December 01,2015, 12:50 am

IF THERE is no respect for the dead and burial customs as deeply rooted in PNG customs, it is the latest mass burial of 50 unclaimed bodies from the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae city, Morobe Province. This happened last Friday where the bodies of men, women and children were literally plucked out of the morgue and thrown into the back of a three-ton dump truck and transported away.

As in such burials no funeral rites were performed and many of the half-naked men, women and children were tossed out like common rubbish onto the truck on top of each other. Pictures of the huge pile of dead bodies are too graphic to be published but they comprise different levels of physical decay. They had been kept in the morgue for between 11–12 months without relatives and families making any attempt to remove them for proper burials. Due to lack of space, the hospital had approached the Lae City Authority for a mass burial to allow space for new bodies. The unclaimed bodies include 15 children and 35 adult men and women. “It is very sad but we have no option but to clear the morgue and make spaces for new bodies coming in,” Mr Kamen said.

 

POM Hospital morgue full

The National, Thursday December 3rd, 2015

FINANCIAL constraints may lead to the lack of space at the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue, a senior officer says. Dr Umesh Gupta, the executive director of clinical services, said they lacked funds to extend the morgue or build a new one. Last week, bodies were transferred to the morgue from a 20-foot container used as a reserve cooler after it developed mechanical problems. Bodies had to be stacked on top of each other in the morgue. It is understood that most of the bodies are awaiting relatives to take them away for burial. Senior morgue attendant Gideon Mati said the holding capacity was 150 at any one time. The number however had gone over 200, he said. Mati said a compartment which should have had only four bodies was now accommodating eight. “Some of the bodies have been here for months because of the lack of identification, while others are brought in and left at the mercy of the hospital,” Mati said. Director of medical services Dr David Mokela said the attitude of some people towards their deceased relatives had changed. “Our culture is known for respecting the dead and giving them a decent burial,” Mokela said. The hospital put out a public notice last Friday for relatives to collect the bodies within two weeks. Failure to do that would result in the bodies being taken to the 9-Mile Cemetery for a mass burial.

 

Those with HIV/AIDS need love: Bishop

Post Courier, December 01,2015, 12:48 am

CHRISTIANS in Papua New Guinea have been asked to treat those living with HIV and AIDS with love. Archbishop of Port Moresby Catholic Diocese, John Ribat, who is also the chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS made the call yesterday in view of World AIDS Day today. He said followers of Jesus Christ must love their neighbours as he commanded and treat those with HIV and AIDS with respect. He said there must not be stigma and discrimination at health facilities and the church leaders and churches are encouraged to provide positive pastoral care to People Living with HIV/AIDS. “If we say we truly love God and if we find it difficult to love our neighbours than we definitely have a problem with our love for God. “Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan and then said go and do the same yourself,” he said. “People and children who are living with HIV/AIDS are made vulnerable because of their status. “Therefore, if we say we love God than our love should have no boundaries,’’ he said. “It is a time to advocate and promote social justice for all irrespective of who we are, as all human beings are equal and deserve to be treated equally at their homes, communities, churches, and when accessing services such as health, education and legal justice,’’ he said.

 

32,000 living with HIV

The National, Tuesday December 1st, 2015

AN estimated 32,000 people are living with HIV in the country, although there are thousands others living with the virus but do not know it, an official says. As the nation celebrates World Aids Day today, Peter Bire, the director of the National AIDS Council secretariat, said the “incidence rate is decreasing or stabilising to around 2000 new cases per year”. “The national average adult prevalence rate is 0.65 per cent,” he said. “However, unfortunately, the prevalence rate is much higher in certain key or most-at-risk populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgenders, including those with TB and other sexually transmitted diseases.

One of the people living with HIV, Maura Elaripe, yesterday told of how she struggled with HIV for 18 years. Elaripe, 38, from Ihu district in Gulf, was diagnosed with HIV in 1997, when she was 18. She had graduated as a nurse and was into her first year of working when she contracted the disease.

“When I contracted the disease, there was no organisation, no policy or drugs to cater for that disease. There was nothing in place for HIV,” she said. She began in 2001 to come out and tell her story to help people understand the problem and to help those like her.

 

Church pleads for AIDS carriers

The National, Tuesday December 1st, 2015

THE Catholic Church is calling on citizens to think of people who have suffered discrimination and marginalisation because they are carrying the HIV virus. In a statement to mark World Aids Day today, the church said families of HIV-positive people who had suffered with them and the people who had taken care of them and grieved for them should be acknowledged. “We must always remember those people who have humbly but determinedly advocated for the dignity of people living with HIV through compassionate care and support,” the statement said. The church said in spite of a slow start, the country’s response to HIV had been impressive. “The response is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people work together,” he said. The church has trained health workers, created community education programmes and set up counselling and testing centres.

 

I am a Survivor. Bid to stop spread of HIV/AIDS

Post Courier, December 08,2015, 12:25 am

AT 32, Carol Kamen has lived almost half of her life with HIV, and says she lived long because of taking the antiretroviral drugs and the support she has from her family and community. She says she was an example of stories of ‘sugar daddies’ where she begun having sex with older man when she was at primary school, and at the age of 18 when she was doing grade 11 she went for an HIV test which revealed that she was HIV. By that time, she had many sexual partners and it was difficult to know from whom she had contracted the virus. Ms Kamen told her story during the celebration of the World AIDS Day in Port Moresby last week on December 1. She had a plaster on her nose which she says was from a beating she got from her husband a week before the World AIDS Day celebrations because she made a decision to give her testimony in public. She said she was not ashamed to speak because it could help other young people and also this is her way of help prevent the spread of HIV to the next generation, saying “I would not want to see my child go through it’’. Her three-year-old daughter is a big healthy girl and is HIV negative just like her father for which Ms Kamen is proud, saying this is due to the HIV treatment and encouraged people to go for HIV test so that if they test positive they will go on treatment and live longer. “Please get to know your status. VCT is free. I’ve been living with HIV for 16 years. I take ARV it is free,’’ she said. Don’t be shamed. If you have the family and community support you will be strong.’’ Mrs Kamen said contrary to what she thought, she had not experienced stigma and discrimination since she revealed her status.

 

More violence victims at Care Centre

26 November 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/features/women/9096-more-violence-victims-at-care-centre

MORE than five hundred violence victims in Solomon Islands are being housed at the Christian Care Centre (CCC) outside Honiara.This was confirmed by Director of the Centre Sr. Ruth Hope on Wednesday. “The majority of these figures are women, girls and children victimized from the gender-based violence,” Sr Hope said. She added that this is the highest ever recorded since the Centre was set established. “These victims came to the Centre seeking for help and we take care of them,” Sr Hope said. She added that the Centre remains humble to accommodate such victims. “There are some wrong interpretations that this Centre is for devoting families but thats not the intention. The intention is to stop violence against women in this country,” she said.

 

Mob kills ‘sorcery’ mother

The National, Tuesday December 8th, 2015

A MOTHER of five accused of practising sorcery allegedly resulting in the recent death of a health officer has been killed, police say. Southern Highlands police commander Superintendent Sibron Papoto said the body of Susan Rote Dickson was cut up and thrown in a fire. He said Dickson was accused of causing the death – through sorcery – of district health officer Elizah Lisa. Dickson was from Turile village near the Kagua district headquarters. Papoto said Lisa’s Miruba tribesmen from Yane, Porane and Mukiri villages apprehended Dickson on November 28, after the funeral of Lisa.

He said they tortured her with knives before cutting up her body and throwing the pieces into a fire.

He said police and health workers managed to retrieve some of her body parts and buried them.

Papoto said the Miruba tribesmen also torched 29 houses, killed two cows and slaughtered pigs belonging to Dickson’s relatives at Turile village. Papoto condemned the act as barbaric and promised that all those involved would face justice. He said two men were jailed by the National Court in Mendi for 21 years each for killing a woman they accused of practising sorcery in 2013 at Kumbiyane village in East Pangia.

 

Version of incident received by Commission for Social Concerns of CBC

Susan lived at Tulire, not far from the Government Station in Kagua. Susan was married with 4 sons. She was a prayerful person, a member of the Lutheran Renewal Church. She looked after a “prayer house.” Susan’s cousin Elijah was sick. She went to pray with him and washed his swollen legs. A few days later his illness worsened and he was taken to Mt Hagen hospital, where he died. Rumours started to go around that Susan was the cause of Elijah’s death (through sorcery). After all she had been close to him, washing him and so on. His clansmen were threatening to attack her clanspeople When Susan heard about this she asked her husband’s brother to take her to her accusers. Her accusers demanded of her, “You must have known something about the death of Elijah, so tell us.” She replied that she knew nothing. When pressed she said that she believed in God and that her hands were clean – she was innocent.

They took her away and started torturing her. They cut her ears, stripped her naked, put a rope around her neck and dragged her along the road. While being dragged like that she called to a boy named Oku who was leading the interrogation, “Why have you done this. My hands are clean.” She was dragged to a place where they prepared a fire. They placed her on car tyres, poured petrol over her and around the tyres and lit a match. While burning to death she could be heard sayin, “Oku, Oku, why are you doing this to me. In God’s name my hands are clean. I am innocent.” Eventually people took any remaining parts of her body and burned it all to dust.

 

HIV treatment program doing well

Post Courier, December 02,2015, 01:52 am

Papua New Guinea is doing well in its treatment program for HIV/AIDS although the targets for its other programs are below 50 per cent. National AIDS Council Secretariat senior monitoring and evaluation officer Agnes Gege said. “Most of our targets are still below 50 per cent, except for the treatment program which is almost 90 per cent,’’ she said. She said the national adult HIV prevalence rate is 0.65 per cent with an estimated number of 32,000 living with HIV/AIDS. The accumulative figure since the virus was detected in 1987 is 60,000. Of which, 24,000 have already died. Also, as of the end of June, 2015, a total of 20,032 PLHIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy in accordance with the nationally approved treatment protocol or WHO standards.

 

Expenditure in PNG’s 2016 Budget – A Detailed Analysis

http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/12/expenditure-in-pngs-2016-budgett.html. By Paul Flanagan

PNG is a high-taxing and very high-spending country relative to its Asia Pacific peers. Most of any adjustment to the fiscal balance should therefore occur on the expenditure side. PNG is planning to do this with a drop in the expenditure to GDP ratio from the highest level ever, of 38.1% in 2013, to its lowest level ever, of 24.6% in 2020. PNG has never attempted such a fiscal consolidation – not even to recover from the fiscal crises of the 1990s. Putting this into an international perspective, PNG is seeking to adjust government expenditure by 13.5% of the economy. This is more than double the government expenditure reductions undertaken by Greece of 6.3% (from 51.4% of GDP in 2010 to 45.1% of GDP in 2015). Of course, PNG is not facing a Greek-style fiscal crisis (at the start of its crisis Greece had a broadly similar deficit of 11%, but a much higher public debt level of 170% of GDP), but it is planning a similar or more draconian response. PNG is seeking real expenditure cuts of 23%, and Greece of 16%, in the peak expenditure cutting period (for PNG, from the 2015 budget to the 2017 forward estimates, for Greece, from 2011 to 2013). In nominal price terms the cuts are similar (15% each), but Greece has a lower inflation rate. In fact, this more detailed analysis indicates that PNG has gone down a path of tougher cuts than Greece, even though its fiscal problems are not as severe. This comparison is made to highlight the extent of expenditure adjustment contained in the 2016 budget. The magnitude of such cuts is not realistic, credible or desirable, especially when one looks at how they have been made.

 

In the midst of all of these cuts at the sectoral level, there are concerns when looking at even greater detail. This is most clearly illustrated by noting that the government is still committed to hosting the APEC meeting in PNG in 2018 at a cost of K3 billion (figure contained in IMF Article IV report). This is more than the $US1 billion in extra debt planned through the sovereign bond. It contrasts to insufficient funding for preparations for the 2017 election (only K10m relative to the out-going Electoral Commissioner’s planned K170m, with another K600m hoped for in 2017), road maintenance, drought relief and the halving of support for the well-respected church health partnerships.

Overall assessment

This budget was always going to be challenging. The 2015 budget reflected hopes that the largest deficits in PNG’s history could be wound back through revenues from the PNG LNG project. The fall in LNG and other commodity prices undermined that hope. The 2015 Supplementary Budget and the 2016 budget commence a possible path to recovery. However, there are significant issues with the path chosen due to missed revenue opportunities, a lack of transparency on issues such as public debt levels and SOEs, and excessive expenditure reductions. It is the latter that is of particular concern. The planned 60% reductions in the economic sector, and 45% reductions to the health, education and infrastructure sectors simply do not seem credible in the context of an election next year, and they are not desirable either. More modest expenditure cuts, better prioritisation, and revenue reforms would have been a better alternative.

[The full article can be accesses at the url above]

 

Job market opens to refugees

Post Courier, December 08, 2015

EMPLOYMENT for refugees is now a reality following the waiver of the strict protocols requiring mainly work permits and certain restrictions primarily targeting foreigners. They will not need to apply for work permits as foreigners. All they need now is to obtain their visas and certificate of identity and all will be well in the job market. PNG Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority acting deputy chief migration officer Clarence Parisau revealed, saying the Government had waived certain restrictions hindering the process required to integrate the refugees into the employment market. “The National Government waived off and exempted all refugees from applying for work permits as foreigners as of last year. “This means that all refugees including those on Manus Island can apply for jobs just like any other ordinary citizen of PNG,” he said. He said in the past the normal protocols hindered refugees from attaining employment opportunities. Mr Parisau said the Government has removed the citizenship application fee of K10,000 for each refugee. “After a refugee has lived in PNG for eight years and over and has met certain requirements they are welcome to apply for citizenship for free. “This makes it even easier for refugees to contribute towards various economical activities to sustain themselves financially,” he said.

 

PNG ranked most corrupt

Post Courier, December 10, 2015

PAPUA New Guinea is ranked 145 out of 174 countries perceived to have high levels of public sector corruption in the world. This was revealed by Transparency International Papua New Guinea yesterday on World Anti-Corruption Day. “From the month of March to December, 2015, 687 individual witnesses and victims have laid complaints with the TIPNG on corrupt activities in the country. “A total of 288 complaints were also made by informal groups, private sector, non-profit organisations with the results yet to be identified,” program manager for advocacy and legal advice centre Leilani Ose said. She said out of the 875 complaints from witnesses and victims of corruption in, a very big number of complaints were on lack of transparency, conflict of interest, mismanagement of public funds and bribery. Ms Ose stressed that most witnesses and victims complained about land issues like logging and landowners difficulties, banking and finance, and police. “We need to fight strongly and break the chain of corruption in our country, what belongs to the people is rightfully theirs.

 

Street Ministry celebrates Christmas

Post Courier, December 10, 2015

THE Journey to celebrate this Christmas must be a joyful one and it was indeed a joyous event for the Children of Street Ministry in Port Moresby yesterday. Though they are labeled street children, they proved themselves to be talented and special during the closing of the school year and the Christmas celebration at the St Joseph’s Parish community hall. Founder of the ministry, Archbishop John Ribat encouraged the children and reminded them that they are special gifts from God and must be part of the journey to celebrating Christmas. “As we focus on Christmas, let us focus on our families, communities and our nation and let us be united in preparing ourselves for the celebrations of Christmas. “Because it is about celebrating Jesus coming into our hearts and lives,” he said. The event saw children from the ASAC and the Laki Guzup Skul who come from Rabiagini, Vadavada, Ranugiri and Erima settlements, which are squatter quarters on the outskirts of the city, perform Christmas dramas, dance and yoga. Archbishop Ribat said the aim of establishing the ministry was to help educate the unfortunate children. “I’m joyful that this ministry is fruitful and has grown from 2010. These children normally wander the streets begging, stealing, or help park vehicles to earn themselves a bit of cash and most are looked down in the society,” he said. The office of street ministry conducts literacy programs, teach basic literacy and numeracy skills to the children, and help them re-enter the education system of the country. Besides literacy, the ministry also teaches socialisation skills, problem solving, anger management among others.

 

Powerful documentary screens at city cinema

Post Courier, December 11, 2015

A POWERFUL film on gender based violence in Papua New Guinea with a national campaign aimed at bringing a solution will soon be screened throughout the country. Titled Senisim Pasin (Change your Ways), the inaugural screening of the documentary was on a big screen at the Paradise Cinema at Vision City on Wednesday, on the eve of the International Human Rights Day. Produced by Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation with the help of Global Virtual Studio, the 43-minute film is in Tok Pisin and of a Hollywood quality and was shown to a selected group of people before it will be screened throughout the country. The documentary includes a short preview of the Senisim Pasin national campaign and a call to action where the audience was invited to be part of the change or solution to the problem of violence in PNG, including making a pledge. President of PNG Tribal Foundation Gary Bustin said PNG has tough laws and the Senisim Pasin film and campaign, produced over two years and cost about K1 million, should jump start the process towards implementation of the laws. The funding from the project came from both the Porgera Remediation Framework Association and the government under its national strategy for responsible sustainable development project when Senisim Pasin was adopted as part of the national strategy. “Senisim Pasin” highlights the value women add to society by telling the stories of women who overcame obstacles and who have accomplishments.

 

Teachers irked over 30pc leave fare cuts

Post Courier, December 15, 2015,

TEACHERS in the National Capital District have been forced to cancel their holidays this year because their leave fares have been cut by 30 per cent. Not only that but they are facing more cuts on top of the 30 per cent imposed by a so-called leave fares committee set up within the NCD education services division. This means all their families and themselves will spend the holidays in the city and not with their relatives and loved ones back in their tranquil homes, towns, villages and provinces as planned. Their anger is directed at the division which they said unilaterally imposed the extra cuts for unexplained reasons. They are only aware of the initial 30 per cent cut announced last month by the Teaching Services Commission due to critical cash shortages.

 

Youth group help reduce crime rate

Post Courier, December 15,2015, 01:54 am

VISITORS travelling into and out of Madang are now able to do so more freely. This is because of a group of youth who have taken it on themselves over the past nine months to ensure the place is trouble free. Dubbed “The Airport Crime Prevention Unit,” or ACPU, the group which started out with just a handful has grown to more than 70 individuals. From dawn when the first plane leaves to dusk to the final lift off, they have faithfully patrolled the area to keep it crime-free. Up until March this year, the airport road has been plagued with crimes of all sorts. Stoning of vehicles, armed hold-ups and breaking and entering were a norm in the province. The last business house to be hit was the helicopter firm, Heli-Niugini. Tired of the bad image that has been painted by minority groups, the youth decided to get together and do something positive. Thus, the ACPU was born and with the help of Heli-Niugini and local authorities.

 

Big loss of life in early pregnancy: Doctor

The National, Thursday December 17th, 2015

EACH year 15,000 women die as a direct result of either pregnancy or child birth in PNG, it has been revealed. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) research programme manager Dr Michelle Hendel said PNG had one of the highest rates of maternal and new-born mortality in the world.

“And 5000 babies don’t make it through their first month of life,” Dr Hendel said.  She said a recent review by the Health Department and World Health Organisation (WHO) identified that up to 98 percent of those maternal lives could be saved through swifter access to quality healthcare.

 

‘PNG has highest number of adolescents with HIV’

Post Courier, December 18, 2015

PAPUA New Guinea is among 10 countries which account for 98 per cent of adolescents aged 10-19 living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific. These countries are: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. A recent report by UNICEF states among countries where data is available, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines have the highest proportion of adolescents living with HIV, accounting for almost 10 per cent of total people living with HIV in each country. The report describes the region is facing a “hidden epidemic” of HIV among adolescents an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections among adolescents aged 15-19 in 2014, accounting for 15 per cent of new infections. There are now around 220,000 adolescents living with HIV in the region, with large cities like Bangkok, Hanoi and Jakarta hubs of new infections.

 

A victim of domestic violence shows her head wound patched up with tape in a women’s shelter in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/dec/16/women-domestic-violence-abuse-papua-new-guinea

When the UN introduced the millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2000, its third pledge – to promote gender equality and empower women – promised to herald worldwide reform. But 15 years later, and with 67% of women in the country suffering domestic abuse, progress in Papua New Guinea has been far slower than hoped. [For the full article, see the url above]

 

El Niño cuts its ugly swathe & PNG bears the brunt

17 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/el-niño-warning-bells-deafening-png-bears-the-brunt.html

Around 4.7 million people face hunger, poverty and disease across the Pacific alone due to El Niño-related droughts, erratic rains and frosts. Globally, 18 million people are already in need of assistance.

The case for urgent action is outlined in a new Oxfam report, Early Action on Super Charged El Niño Vital to Save Lives. Oxfam New Zealand’s Pacific humanitarian manager Carlos Calderon said governments in at-risk countries are learning from slow responses to past crises and must aim to scale-up early action now, with the support of the international community, to prevent the weather event sparking major humanitarian crises. “The last major El Niño in 1997-1998 caused widespread loss of life, damage, displacement and disease outbreaks in many parts of the world, and this year’s El Niño is expected to be even more severe,” Calderon said. Papua New Guinea is bearing the brunt of El Niño in the Pacific region, with the country’s National Disaster Committee reporting that up to three million people are at risk as crop failures force many people to cut back to eating just one meal a day.

People are walking for hours to find water and face increased risk of disease due to poor hygiene.

“The warning bells are deafening. We must act now to save lives and prevent people falling further into poverty,” Calderon said.

 

Call to help drought areas

The National, Friday December 18th, 2015

THERE is a need to focus funding on the most remote and critically affected drought areas in the country as the people there are struggling to get assistance with food, water and medical supplies due to limited access, an agriculturalist said. Michael Bourke, while presenting a report on the impact of frost and drought in Papua New Guinea, outlined the impact on food which resulted in the increase consumption of rice and unusual food such as wild yams, banana corms and green pawpaw.  He said that due to the severe drought, theft from gardens and use of savings to buy food was increasing as those who were adversely affected resorted to such activities to help themselves and their families.

While focusing on the rural areas affected by the drought, Bourke said that not only caused school closures and widespread bushfires that damaged houses and gardens but migration to other rural or urban locations. He said priority need was in remote locations where the impact of the drought was the worst because villagers in those places had low cash income, limited market access, no road access and limited capacity to influence aid.

He said cost of transporting food other aid to these locations was high. Bourke compared the 1997 drought with the current one, saying that social media and mobile phones improved information flow and with the improvement to some roads, aid could be delivered to some remote areas, but many remote roads and airstrips were no longer usable, resulting in most aid yet to reach those areas.

Bourke urged the Government, stakeholders, and other agencies to assist with funding for resources and logistics so that the severely drought stricken areas in the remote parts of the country could be assisted

 

Article on frost and dry season

http://www.inapng.com/pdf_files/Bourke%20drought%20POM%20Dec15%20Ver2.pdf

 

The three political economies of electoral quality in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

By Terence Wood on December 7, 2015 http://devpolicy.org/the-three-political-economies-of-electoral-quality-in-solomon-islands-and-papua-new-guinea-20151204/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=50b22f723b-Devpolicy_News__Dec_18_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-50b22f723b-227683090

Download pdf

 

Is the free education policy really helping the young generation?

Post Courier, December 01, 2015 By Lorna Paul (DWU Journalism student)

A lot of leaders have been raising concerns about where to put the increasing number of grade twelve leavers in the country as an outcome of the free education policy. The people of the country are enjoying the luxury of sending their kids to school for free but they don’t know that the number of spaces in the lower education level is not equivalent to the available spaces in the tertiary institutions. This could be the main course for the increasing number of young people on the streets. Anti-corruption Taskforce Sweep chairman Sam Koim said at a graduation ceremony that this is the biggest challenge faced by the country today. He said that in 5-10 years’ time there will be a lot of young educated citizens but they will have nothing to do. He said that labor is a very important factor in the country but Papua New Guinea is making use of cheap labor.” The country must make sure that it utilizes the labor of young people. The young population has more energy and if the country does not put its labor to use it can be destructive”, said Mr Koim. He also said that with this policy, quality education is being over looked for quantity.” Since leaders do not send their kids to the secondary schools in the country or go to the our general hospitals when they are sick they do not know what is really happening, they choose the best for their kids in other countries  “, he said.

The bottom line is, is the free education policy developing the country or is it mess recruiting young drop outs on the streets?

 

What are exams good for? Primary and secondary school exam reform in PNG

By Anthony Swan on December 15, 2015   http://devpolicy.org/what-are-exams-good-for-primary-and-secondary-school-exam-reform-in-png-20151215/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=50b22f723b-Devpolicy_News__Dec_18_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-50b22f723b-227683090

What are exams good for? This question cuts to the heart of a debate occurring in Papua New Guinea on how students should be assessed as they progress through primary and secondary school. Currently all students at the end of primary school (grade 8) and lower secondary school (grade 10) are required to sit an externally administered nationwide exam. However, as PNG prepares to release a new five-year National Education Plan, these national exams are set to be phased out over the next six years from 2016 and replaced by “internal school assessment systems”. Unless new national exams are introduced, such as NAPLAN in Australia, the only national examination will be for students at the end of high school (grade 12). The main reason being communicated to the public for the change is to remove constraints on students progressing from primary to secondary school and into year 12. As reported [pdf] by the PNG Department of Education, “Each year around 100,000 students are pushed out of the education system as a direct result of these examinations”. The problem is that the grade 8 and 10 results are used by provincial administrations to select students into secondary schools. The “pushed out” students are those that fail to meet the minimum cut-off grade in these exams.

 

…The challenge for education reformers is to invest in both school infrastructure and teachers to facilitate access to school, as well as to ensure that time spent at school by students is not just leading to “empty learning”. National, standardised and externally based examinations allow for independent and transparent measures of student learning outcomes, which are crucial for raising the quality of education. That’s what exams are good for.

 

O’Neill puts squeeze on B’ville as he seeks to buy Panguna mine

23 December 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/12/momis-fears-rio-is-poised-to-sell-bcl-equity-to-png-government.html#more

IN a letter seen by PNG Attitude, Bougainville president John Momis has told the managing director of Rio Tinto he is concerned the Papua New Guinea government is positioning to buy Rio’s 53.83% equity in Bougainville Copper (BCL). Dr Momis advised Sam Walsh this information was conveyed to him early in December by two PNG government ministers. One of them, Ben Micah, let Dr Momis know that, following a series of meetings with Rio Tinto, PNG wished to purchase Rio’s equity and is seeking the agreement of the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the deal. Dr Momis wrote to Mr Walsh that, in earlier meetings with Rio Tinto in July, he had been assured “in the clearest terms” that the company had not yet finalised a review of its stake in BCL and that there was no agreement between Rio Tinto and the PNG government about a sale of equity. Dr Momis sought Mr Walsh’s “urgent assurance that, if Rio has decided to divest, it will enter into discussions with my government about the consequences of such a decision.”

Meanwhile Dr Momis – in a speech to the Bougainville parliament yesterday – said the PNG government has been ignoring the requirements of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and its chronic underpayment of grants and taxes has left the ABG’s budget in very poor shape.

He said that, if the matter was not resolved by February, the ABG will take the PNG government to the Supreme Court. One commentator on Bougainville affairs told PNG Attitude that “it seems strange that in a situation where PNG is in deep fiscal crisis, it proposes to spend US$100 million on shares in BCL, but at the same time claims it cannot meet its constitutional obligations to fund the Bougainville government.”

 

Hospital theft on the rise (Honiara)

Published: 18 December 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/9168-hospital-theft-on-the-rise

Latest victim loses laptop, cash. HEALTH authorities are working on beefing up security around the National Referral Hospital (NRH) premises in light of the increasing incidents of theft in there.

Victim Timothy Magusi told the Solomon Star he spent the night in the Children’s ward taking care of a family member who was admitted. “At around 2 am, my eyes were so sleepy that I decided to doze off using my bag as a pillow,” he said. However, Mr Magusi said when he woke up after a three-hour sleep; he noticed the bag he used as a pillow had gone missing from his head. “My bag contains a laptop, three flash drives, one mobile phone, a wallet with $800 cash, a bank card, and school identification card,” he said. “When I realised my bag had been stolen, I rushed over to the security guards and alerted them about it, but they could do nothing because they don’t know who the thief is,” Mr Magusi said. Over the past months, people looking after sick relatives at the hospital have complained of valuables being stolen while they were fast asleep.

 

Another Sorcery Accusation Killing in Enga

(From a private source)

A school inspector from Enga Province who was working in Chuave in Simbu Province died. His body was brought back to Enga (Pipi) to be buried. This was in November 2015. His wife Lucy, who is from Wapenamanda in Enga accompanied the body of her husband. At the funeral the wife was accused of “sanguma” (witchcraft) and of having caused the death of her husband. After all she had been living in Simbu, which Enga people think of as the “home” of sanguma witchcraft. People locked the woman in a house and tried to set fire to the house so as to burn her. But the house did not catch fire. So they locked her in the house and threw the key into the river. She is the mother of four children, two boys and two girls. One son supported the people in getting rid of his mother. The other was opposed to them killing his mother. They kept a close eye on him to make sure he did not rescue her. She was left locked in the house with no food or water. She could be heard crying inside the house. After about 14 days the crying ceased and a day later there was a bad smell coming from the house – they say ike the smell of a dead dog. Presuming that she had died, people opened the house, took the body, and disposed of it in the high forest away from the village.

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