- Traditional owners
- Julia Newton-Howes, CEO CARE Australia
- Dr Stephen Howes, Cleo Fleming and Cate Rogers from ANU
- Fellow parliamentarians Philip Ruddock, Senators Clare Moore and Anne McEwen
Welcome to the launch of the Care / ANU Crawford School of Economics' Report on Rural Poverty in Remote Papua New Guinea: a Case Study of the Obura-Wonenara District.
This is a landmark report and the Australian Government is very proud to have played a part in its funding.
This report is an incredibly useful took in mapping the issue of rural poverty.
Report’s usefulness: mapping tool
The Report maps: where our key challenges are such as Health, Education, Infrastructure, Gender Equality, Livelihood and it looks at how these challenges can best be tackled.
Why those in remote areas are especially afflicted;
who the key players are and
what resources we would need to make a difference to rural poverty.
The Report provides an insight on poverty in rural PNG.
And we couldn't have picked a better team than CARE and the ANU Crawford School of Economics and Government.
I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate the authors on the terrific job they have done.
In particular, to Cate Rogers, Research Associate with the Development Policy Centre at the ANU Crawford School of Economics and principal author of the Report.
Partnership between NGO and Academia
AusAID funded this research partnership as part of the broader Integrated Community Development Project. This is a $6.7 million project that CARE administers to help remote and disadvantaged districts in PNG.
CARE was chosen to manage this major project because of their field experience in PNG, particularly in rural development, spanning over two decades.
They understand that fighting poverty requires, not just the right injection of funding, but also enduring relationships with communities, local level government, local NGOs and service providers.
Their collaboration with the ANU Crawford School of Economics enabled them access to one of Australia’s leading centres of thought on economics, governance, environment and development in the Asia-Pacific.
The Report affirms that while we are far from winning the war, we are making progress.
PNG’s population is estimated at around 7 million.
Rural village population is estimated at 5.7 million, which is roughly 81 per cent of the total population.
The overwhelming majority of the rural villagers — some 90 per cent — live with limited access to education, health services, market and economic opportunities.
This, in turn, leads to poor literacy and numeracy rates, high unemployment, poor health and health-related outcomes, such as shortened life expectancy, high infant mortality, and higher risk of HIV infection.
According to 2010 data from the PNG Department of Education, 75% of all school aged children enrol in basic education. Out of these, 57.5% complete primary schooling.
But these are significant improvements from 2007 when 53% of school aged children accessed school with 44% completing primary school.
But children in remote rural communities have less access to education and to learning materials. Teachers tend to avoid rural placements due to poor pay and poor facilities. Girls and other disadvantaged groups also tend to have less access and lower completion rates.
Australian efforts to fight poverty
Following the review of the PNG-Australia Development Cooperation Treaty, Australia has repositioned its aid program to PNG around four sectors: health including HIV/AIDS, education, infrastructure and law and justice.
Health and Education are the key priorities reflecting the importance of progress in these areas for PNG’s development.
Our repositioned program will also work more at the provincial and sub-national level. Our PNG program is not a program for Port Moresby. It is a program for the whole of PNG.
We will be focussing on service delivery on the ground to those who need it most.
In education, the Australian and the PNG Governments have made strong steps to improving the whole of the education sector.
Australia will invest more than $56 million in education in PNG this year.
AusAID will construct up to 2,000 school buildings - classrooms, houses and offices - between now and 2015.
It will buy and deliver 4 million textbooks in PNG over the next five years.
AusAID will provide $11 million toward the abolition of school fees in 2011.
And the increase in primary school enrolments as a result of removing school fees will have seen 200,000 more kids go to school between 2007 and 2010.
AusAID will train another 15,000 teachers between now and 2015.
In our other key sector, health, Foreign Minister Rudd announced a significant package during his recent visit to PNG. Australia will provide a $64 million health package.
$40 million of this will be through the Asian Development Bank, to upgrade health centres and build new community aid posts in rural PNG.
The remaining $24 million will purchase medical supplies, such as vaccines and birthing kits for all 3000 health centres and aid posts across PNG.
We expect this support to have a positive impact: to reduce the number of women dying in child birth; on the under five child mortality rate, and; the prevention and treatment of illnesses such as TB, malaria and pneumonia.
Conclusion and take home message
This Report affirms that AusAID and its partners are working on the right issues, with the right people, in the right way.
The Report tells us:
- There is no magic bullet for fighting poverty because there’s no one contained problem that can be labelled as "poverty".
- But one issue that is common in all poverty is access. To reduce poverty, one must have access to all the core services: health, education, infrastructure, communication, effective law and justice systems, livelihood and economic opportunity.
We need to provide quality education including through access to learning materials, well trained teachers and a stronger emphasis on learning outcomes.
Importantly, parents have to see how they and their children will benefit from sending kids to school instead of staying at home and helping with household and community needs.
- Working through local partners — in disadvantaged and remote areas, supporting home-grown actors to identify and solve their own development challenges is critical, particularly if we are to see the benefits sustained beyond the life of external support.
PNG is currently in the longest period of economic growth since independence. We must help PNG to see that this is the period which changes the reality of poverty in PNG.
As Australia and PNG reposition Australia’s aid program in PNG, this Report serves us well.
My thanks and congratulations to the CARE / ANU team again.
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