Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the largest and most populous country in the Pacific. After early colonial administration by Britain and Germany, and four years of Japanese occupation during WWII, PNG gained independence from Australia in 1975. A nine-year secessionist revolt on the eastern island of Bougainville ended in 2001 with peace accords granting autonomy and promising a referendum on independence from PNG within the next few years.
PNG’s population of just over seven million people is geographically and culturally diverse. The country is home to over 850 indigenous languages and an even larger number of distinct clan-based groupings, many in remote areas. Approximately 87% of the population is rural although rapid urbanization is expected to reduce this to 65% by 2030. The majority of the population engage in subsistence farming with some cash cropping (coffee, cocoa). PNG has large mineral reserves of gold, copper and nickel, and is rich in oil and gas.
The level of inequality in income distribution is the highest amongst all countries in the Asia Pacific, and PNG is now one of the lowest ranking countries (156/187) outside of sub-Saharan Africa and the lowest in the Pacific region in the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI). PNG is unlikely to achieve any of the global targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Oxfam in Papua New Guinea
Oxfam has worked in Papua New Guinea for nearly 20 years, operating in the Highlands, Bougainville, Port Moresby and Sepik regions.
Oxfam focuses on three key areas of work, working directly through local partner organizations:
- Economic Development – Natural resource management, food justice and livelihoods. Oxfam is strengthening the ability of women and men to make the most Papua New Guinea’s rich natural resources in a sustainable way. We are improving people’s livelihoods by working with our partner organizations to help communities achieve the right to live free from poverty, with a sustainable income and secure food supply. Our partners have particular strengths in developing sustainable incomes through livestock and horticulture programmes.
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Oxfam is improving the health of rural communities by improving access to safe water supplies, sanitation facilities and improved hygiene practices. See how safe water transforms communities.
- Elimination of violence against women. Oxfam is working to reduce violence against women through community outreach work including peer support services, and ensuring that there is increased access to quality crisis support centers. These services are for survivors, perpetrators, as well as men and boys. Oxfam is also the only INGO in PNG specifically working against sorcery related violence and the Oxfam supported Case Management Centre in Lae is the first of its kind to provide women affected by sexual and family violence with the counseling, support and intervention they need to obtain protection and justice.
Our work includes disaster risk reduction and our central commitments focus on active citizenship and gender justice.