These grassroots projects, worth around K1 million in total, sit next to big multi-million kina projects in health, education and rural livelihoods that New Zealand's international aid and development programme delivers in Papua New Guinea.
But these small community projects are something special due to the number of people they directly assist.
Kimingas Community Development Association's potato farming project (just out of Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands) is one such project. The group was supported in purchasing basic farm equipment, seed and fertilizer in order to expand their subsistence farming to a profitable large-scale endeavour in a community of over 3000 people. The project had the endorsement of the Fresh Produce Development Agency. Only a few months into their project the first batch of potatoes are ready for harvesting.
Recipients are normally non-government organisations or community groups engaged in development activities. Grants are not provided to individuals. In every project the applicants themselves must make a significant contribution in terms of labour, transport, materials, and/or cash. The group must also be actively involved in identifying, designing and implementing the project.
Around Bougainville, a range of water supply projects over the past few years have met the basic needs of thousands of villagers without access to clean drinking water. Solopala and Kamarove villages have been recent recipients of water projects with Hangan and Kubukukul villages up next. In every project the community has provided timber, labour, plumbing equipment or cash as their contribution.
Priority is given to projects that target the disadvantaged such as people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, young people and communities in remote areas who have not otherwise received assistance and projects that enhance gender equality and increase the equitable participation of women in development.
A recent recipient of funding is the De Staze community group which is undertaking a unique trade project to support the women of Gulf Province. In exchange for traditional mats to sell in the Port Moresby markets, the group members provide the women mat-weavers with a basket of goods equivalent to the price of their mats but worth more than they could afford to purchase locally.
The main vehicle for supporting grassroots projects is the New Zealand Head of Mission Fund. The maximum grant for a single activity under this fund is K25,000. All funds for the 2009/2010 financial year have already been allocated, meaning new projects will need to wait until mid year before applying. Community groups interested in applying should contact the High Commission.
The New Zealand Government signed a joint strategy with the Government of Papua New Guinea in July 2008. This strategy will guide the aid programme in PNG for the next 10 years, and addresses some of the key development priorities of the country. The strategy is aimed at:
- improving social services in education and health
- improving livelihood opportunities for rural people
(Above right - WAITING for buyers ...Miriam Peter of Western Highlands awaits amongst stacks of kaukau and potatoe bags like an eagle awaits its prey at the storage yard near Gordons market. She said nearly every week she and her colleague farmers from Kagamuga in the Western Highlands bring in 2,000 bags into the city. She said, though there are many dangers involved travelling down the notorious Highlands Highway, for them it is business as usual. She said kaukau bags are sold at K100 whilst potatoes go for K250, Demand is very high in the city, she said. New Zealand aid is funding a project in the Western Highlands to help farmers such as Miriam. Picture by JACK NOAH YAMAHA)