Building for peace and social inclusion Kiriwina Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

PROJECT OVERVIEW: A nascent multi-ethnic community of indigenous Trobriand islanders and local migrants from neighboring Milne Bay islands are moving forward to collectively build a multi-purpose community center in Losuia, Kiriwina Island. Adopting Participatory Action Research for local Melanesian contexts among Massim societies, the community-driven project aims to build up grassroots capacities for addressing and pursuing collectively identified strategic development goals. Key affected sectors themselves, including women, students, people with disabilities and elderly citizens, have directly represented their respective agendas and contributed in the collective design and construction of an emerging Community Resource Centre. In particular, the diversified Losuia community is currently mobilizing resources for incrementally building up their collectively designed Community Resource Centre as a strategic base for: Creating accessible space for vital services and social inclusion of vulnerable groups and minority sectors; developing strategic space and an enabling environment for multi-ethnic collaboration towards a common development agenda; promoting sustainable peace and security based on traditional relational processes of peace building and conflict management; demonstrating climate-adaptive designs and alternative building technology based on indigenous knowledge and traditional communal land tenure; involving women and other marginalized sectors in local development and governance.

CATEGORY: Civil Society SETTING: Rural STATUS: On-going

BY: Melanesian Institute (MI) and Socio-Economic Service

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: The project adopts Participatory Action Research as a framework for grassroots development among multi-ethnic island communities who have collectively taken the initiative to take their community development agenda into their own hands. The Losuia Community organized themselves into grassroots research teams to conduct village level data-gathering, participatory social mapping, and community dialogues leading to participatory design of viable micro-projects. Breaking the perennial “researcher-researched” dichotomy by doing baseline research of their own, the grassroots communities have managed to equip themselves with baseline information for the participatory planning and design of a strategic Community Resource Center as a pilot community-managed development project.

The emerging building design incorporated the vital social agenda of affected sectors who were ably assisted by volunteer technical professionals, building on local indigenous knowledge and relevant vernacular architecture. In particular, the proposed Community Resource Center design adopts the architectural and socio-cultural value of the Trobriand “Yam House” as an indigenous icon of cultural resilience, responsiveness to emerging social needs, and adaptation to the impact of climate change in the Pacific.

PARTNERS: The ongoing Participatory Action Research processes have equipped the Grassroots communities themselves as key stakeholders in their own development, while critically challenging the local Government (Kiriwina District and Milne Bay Province), the local Church (local Catholic Mission under the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia), and other development partners. Serving as an ‘Intermediary Support Organization’ (ISO), the Melanesian Institute (MI) technically assists the Losuia community to grow and mature into a dynamic “Community-Based Organization” (CBO) through hands-on collaborative projects. MI’s pool of technical support and professional volunteers have so far assisted the Losuia CBO in the Participatory Community Research and Project Planning processes, including the architectural design of the Community Resource Center. Rainer Kašik, Architect / Civil Engineer, Vienna, Austria / Kiunga, Papua New Guinea is currently assisting the ongoing project.