4 Responses

  1. John Kalu
    John Kalu April 21, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    This is how the big picture in Waigani does not translate into better services for people in the rural sites; it’s across the country, much worse in places like Western and Gulf, Sepiks and the small Islands.

    We cannot blame the systems or institutions or policies that they are not working favourably for the rural people, it’s how the commitment from groups and individuals who are tasked and duty-bound to serve are weak or failed to deliver. Adding to this failure is the insufficient allocation of resources like funding to the district or education system in the Province.

    The promised K10m-K15m DSIP funds only exist on papers, not that much of money landed in the district account at one point in a year, the reason is known to the local MP or the DA. However, groups and individuals at the district and others at the Provincial office failed to make good and efficient use of the limited funding that comes in, they tend to suck on the limited government funding as well with false claims, paper services and one day company style.

    So the real need like schools, aid posts and roads has gone from bad to worse. This further crippled student access to basic education, sick people die from communicable diseases and poor road system. It is the people who are tasked and duty-bound to do something like the DA and district staff, the MP and people at the Provincial office that is simply not doing their job. Even if they do their job, it was without or with limited funding.

    Apart from the government provided services like schools and aid posts, the only services that will continue to function and provide needs like basic education and medication will be the churches run or NGOs set up facilities in the rural location.

    Still the rural people hope for the best every time and lived with what they can make.

  2. Paul Flanagan
    Paul Flanagan April 20, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Rebecca’s story was filled with great insights and it is terrific that an Australian NGO is working at the local level in PNG. When reading through the story, it made me reflect on whether I had done enough to integrate such on-the-ground realities when providing high level budget and economic advice in the PNG Treasury (or in the Australian Treasury advising on PNG). The picture painted is one of great individual resilience and perserverance in the face of regular system failure. And this is where I would possibly differ from Elizabeth in that I consider the difficulties in appointing teachers, or the disbursement of budgeted DSIP funds down to the district level, or the appalling response to the drought, as indicative of system failures. Frankly, the people at district level deserve better. We have gone through centuries of change to build governance systems, with more balanced incentives and accountabilities, and we’ve learned some lessons along the way (although probably not on refugee policy where I strongly agree with Elizabeth’s comments). These lessons can, respectfully, be adapted and shared. Rebecca’s story is a real reminder of the challenges faced, including the extraordinary complexity of pressures that flow from the wantok system, at the local level. These must be built into good policy design to support positive change for the people of Obura Wonenara.

    1. Elizabeth Morgan
      Elizabeth Morgan April 21, 2016 at 9:12 am

      I agree with you Paul re totally people deserving better and I agree with the system failures. I should have acknowledged that too. I’m not sure we are at odds on anything though. My main point was that Rebecca has told the other narrative that rarely gets told and that we need to remember that people trying to do reforms are themselves dealing with massive challenges, just as our foremothers and forefathers did in our respective countries and that PNG will work this out and that it will take time. One of the lessons we seem unwilling to share is how long it has taken us to reform (as you also note) and for many people in some remote communities in Australia their stories are as sad and challenging as some here. We often behave as though Australia changed quickly. It didn’t. And if you are a woman it is still taking a very very long time despite the positive changes!

  3. Elizabeth Morgan
    Elizabeth Morgan April 18, 2016 at 9:40 am

    You have told the story of the daily challenges facing good officers and leaders from Provinces Districts, LLGs in PNG with kindness and honesty Rebecca. This is the reality of the task they all face as they try to improve the delivery of services to the people of PNG for the Government of PNG. GoPNG leaders know these realities too well – they also deal with them at a national level and international level.They are likely part of the chain of phone calls between people in their home village and province dealing with those local events and challenges – most of the GoPNG parliamentary members are from those areas too (over 80%). If we are to make any difference here as expats or international agencies/companies/donors we need to respect the reality of what you have described and work with it, not criticise and judge it. PNG is finding its own way and leading change and it won’t look like or be anything like Australia, the US, NZ, the UK, Europe, Singapore, etc any time soon. But then – we took the best part of two centuries to get where we are now. And we have our own challenges – some of them enormous, such as refugees and the way we fail to work respectfully with our own Indigenous communities. And then we expect PNG to help us deal with one of those – the damage done to PNG’s image, in the name of helping keep Australians safe and our borders protected, is going to be one of our most shameful historical reflections any time soon. Manus is truly beautiful – like the rest of PNG. How did we allow such harm to be done to PNG? Thank you for naming the challenges the people of PNG deal with every day in their unique and wonderful ways. But even then I fear some readers will interpret your alternative narrative of dealing with challenges as evidence only of failure rather than of resilience and perseverance.

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