Newsletter September 2020

COVID-19 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment presented to PNG Government & Development Partners

Fourth from left: UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Gianluca Rampolla, Secretary for the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Mr Koney Samuel and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener and flanked by both UNDP and Government staff during the presentation.

The UNDP delivered one of its key COVID-19 response outputs on 15 September when it presented the first Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) of COVID-19 on Papua New Guinea to the Development Partners Round Table Meeting (DPRT) at the UN Conference Room, in Port Moresby.

The DPRT was co-chaired by the National Government’s Secretary for the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Mr. Koney Samuel and UN by the Resident Coordinator, Mr Gianluca Rampolla. The Government was represented by the DNPM, the Department of Finance and Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The SEIA is an important document that provides the evidence needed by the Government to make informed and evidence-based policy decisions,” said Mr. Samuel.

The SEIA was presented by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Edward Vrkic and UNDP's Development Economist, Mr. Christopher Hnanguie.

“The SEIA is a critical input from the UN and other partners to the government to support its recovery process,” said Mr. Rampolla.

Four sets of policy recommendations were presented in the report for government, development partners, NGOs and businesses. Policy recommendations include:

  1. Investing in human capital and the strengthening of basic service delivery,
  2. Developing mechanisms to better protect the most vulnerable, particularly women and the unemployed,
  3. Economic diversification and pivot towards a ‘greening’ of the economy, and
  4. More inclusive and forward-looking socio-economic policy settings that facilitate stronger livelihoods and more equitable opportunities.

These recommendations were formed to determine how each of these main stakeholders are going to support the COVID-19 crisis recovery process for PNG.

“The policy recommendations presented seek to balance addressing the challenges presented by COVID-19 to Papua New Guinea with a commitment to continue delivering on the nation's longer-term aspirations to ensure that by 2050 PNG is an inclusive and sustainable society,” said Mr Wagener.

Additional reports were discussed. The World Bank and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also presented complementary analysis.


Standing tall to advocate for change

Ms. Hennah Joku. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

As Ms Hennah Joku stood up to talk at the high-level meeting on Gender Based Violence on 24 August, she dug deep into her emotions with a message to tell all: Gender-Based Violence has no place in Papua New Guinea.

She stood tall that day, reliving a nightmare that still haunts her. She spoke with a commanding voice and those that were in the audience were in awe of her having the courage to speak on a topic that is silently killing women and girls. A topic that has become normalized in PNG’s society.

Ms Joku is one of only a handful of women brave enough to come out and speak about her ordeal in the hands of a violent man. She wanted to share her experience, to represent the voiceless, to speak to the parliamentarians, heads of government agencies and development partners gathered - that it’s now time to act.

The fulltime journalist and mother eventually left a relationship after enduring physical, emotional and psychological abuse from her partner.

“I walked away from the second violent assault realizing that he could’ve killed me. He probably would have if I had stayed,” she recalled.

Why speak out? Why become an advocate? She is a mother and wanted to instill in her children that no form of violence is acceptable.

Ms Joku spoke about the importance of hearing first hand experience of women who have survived such violence. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

“I’m a mother, I need to know I’m doing my part to ensure I leave my children to a safer society than what it is now. Violence has become too normalized and it’s disgusting, and the levels of violence are getting extreme. There have been groups advocating for as long as I have been a journalist and I feel there is still more that can be prioritized,” she said.

The High-Level meeting on Gender-Based Violence is a testament that the national government remains committed to prevent and respond to GBV. This has led to the formation of the Coalition of Parliamentarians against GBV with the Governor of NCD, Hon. Powes Parkop and Governor of East Sepik Province Hon. Allen Bird taking the lead to mobilizing parliamentarians to make a stand. Even development partners such as the United Nations Development Programme is doing its part to support the government.

“It’s good to see our leaders finally making a stance. But we need to focus on enforcement and the justice system and process. The laws are there. Less talk, more actions. Every day we spend talking and meeting and advocating, another woman gets bashed, hospitalized or killed. With the swiftness the government moved when addressing COVID-19, they must do so for GBV. It can be done,” Ms Joku said.

According to the National Gender-Based Violence Strategy 2016-2025, 65.5% of women in PNG have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point of their lives. Ninety percent of women in prisons are serving time for murder. They acted in self-defense, in response to family violence. And 80% of children experience some form of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.

“Violence isn’t a gender war. It’s not about men versus women. It’s not about religion, culture or background. It’s about educating our men to know there are laws against all forms of violence and building our young women up to know their worth. This has to happen simultaneously. Otherwise we keep hitting a brick wall,” she said.

Ms Joku followed in her father’s footsteps to become a journalist. She began as a 15-year-old at EM TV learning the trades from mentors such as John Eggins, Frank Senge-Kolma, Tarcisius Bobola, Sean Dorney, Rowan Callick, Anna Solomona and many others. Her first teacher being her journalist father, Mr Franzalbert Joku. Every chance she got during school holidays she would work at EM TV. Her career includes radio journalism and broadcast as well having working at both PNGFM and NBC and now is a part of TVWan News and Production.

“I fell in love with the newsroom and I’ve been in the media industry ever since,” she said.

In her capacity as a journalist, she would like the voices of those that have been hurt to be heard.

“Hopefully we don’t keep on the trend of violent incidents only hyping and trending for a while then dying away. This conversation needs to keep happening at all levels. What’s stalling and delaying GBV cases? How do we change that process? Victims’ families are still struggling for justice and survivors are at risk the longer a case takes and that’s why so many people, mostly women give up along the way.”

The establishment of the Coalition of Parliamentarians against GBV is a great step and a golden opportunity as it is the first time in the country that a Commission to advocate on GVB has been created. All these expected results will be monitored and updated in November during the main Conference on GVB again. NCD GBV taskforce under Governor’s Powes Parkop’s leadership in partnership with UNDP is leading the process in supporting the Government in addressing Gender Based Violence.


First ever coalition of parliamentarians formed to address Gender-based Violence in PNG

Parliamentarians that made a commitment to address Gender-Based Violence in the respective provinces. Photo courtesy of Wanpis Ako (NCDC)

A new coalition of ‘Parliamentarians Against Gender Based Violence’ (GBV) was formed recently to drive and implement strategies to address and stop GBV in provinces throughout PNG.

The 26 August meeting, conducted by the Governor of Enga Province Grand Chief Sir Peter Ipatas with the aid of NCD Governor Hon. Powes Parkop, saw close to 20 parliamentarians sign on to the coalition.

This is a first for Papua New Guinea to have its parliamentarians committed to addressing GBV in their respective provinces.

They acknowledged that GBV is an issue that needs a prompt solution as it continues to undermine PNG’s social and economic growth with violence, severely impacting women’s productive contributions.

“The most important resource we have is our people, we must empower them and also provide a safe environment in order for to them to thrive and contribute to the economy of our country, this means addressing all forms of violence including gender-based violence”, stated Hon. Allan Bird, Governor for East Sepik.

“We as elected leaders have a responsibility to address the growing law and order issues and gender-based violence is at the heart of this” said Hon. Garry Juffa, Governor for Oro.

The Parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to take substantial strategic steps to address key policy failings, and to use their collective voice to demand change.

Sharing his NCD GBV strategy, Governor Parkop said that women and girls have faced the impact of this epidemic and it continues to limit their ability to enjoy the rights as citizens of PNG.

“While we acknowledge all the work done to date to address this crisis, it has not been enough to seriously reduce or eliminate GBV, nor the underlying root causes: Inequality and discrimination,” he said.

This meeting was a follow up to the High-level conference on GBV that took place on Monday 24 August led by Hon. Powes Parkop and East Sepik Governor Hon. Alan Bird and supported by UNDP.


Beginning of a new chapter for Varirata National Park

As Mr Bisikau Mamana stood up to talk he took a while to compose himself, swallowing back his emotions that threatened to burst out.

Mr Mamana making a few remarks at the gathering. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

Choking on his first few words, Mr Mamana paused again and cleared his throat. Composed, he began, slowly, this time making sure not to break down.

They were a small gathering - comprised mostly of family, friends and colleagues - joined to witness the closing of a chapter, and the beginning of a new one at the Varirata National Park (VNP). To be replaced by a new building, the old Ranger’s Quarters that many of them had called home would be demolished, taking with it the memories that lingered.

From 1974 up until his retirement in 2016, Mr Mamana had called VNP his home. It was here that he began his family. Here, he bore 8 children. Here, his wife and two children had passed away.

“There are so many fond memories. Our families grew up here. The building started out as an office, and then become single quarters for the rangers, and then to becoming a family home for many of us,” he said.

Like Mr Mamana, retired rangers, Mr Bulisa Iova, Mr Felix Kinbag, Mr Kore Serehu and Mr Kisea Tiube had all called this place home for 40 years.

The retired Rangers and their families and CEPA staff standing in front of the old Rangers Quarters. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

Mr Mamana said the gathering had somewhat a traditional significance too.

“Before we take it down, we pay homage to it. For the loved ones we’ve lost along the way, we ask them to come with us. Although we are sad, we are also happy that changes are coming. It’s for the good of the national park,” he said.

Before the quarters became a family home, it was an accommodation for new rangers who were trained and sent out to the provinces to work. The structure was also transformed to an office at one time. It will now be replaced by a modern building with four bedrooms, living and dining areas, and will still serve as The Ranger Quarters into the future.

The Rangers Quarter removed to make way for a new one. ©UNDP/M.Goro

The UNDP in Papua New Guinea is working closely with Government through the Conservation and Environment Protection Agency (CEPA) to upgrade facilities at Varirata National Park. A new office was constructed at the entrance gate in June 2020. Renovation work will also begin on the toilet facilities. The Project has also funded 10 UNV Community Rangers to manage and maintain the Park and their presence in the Park has provided security as well to an extent. UNDP has also assisted in capacity building of VNP rangers through the Queensland Parks Wildlife Services, who are also assisting with the Business Plan for the Park.


Taking action to address climate change

L-R: Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori, Climate Change and Development Authority Managing Director, Mr. Ruel Yamuna, UNDPs Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic and British High Commissioner to PNG, Mr. Keith Scott officially opened the inception workshop. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

There is no greater single-issue facing Papua New Guinea’s national development than climate change.

Taking urgent action on climate change requires a collaborative effort by all stakeholders, from affected communities to Governments, civil society organisations, the private sector and development partners. Papua New Guinea was the first country in the world to submit its national Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) - highlighting the urgency placed on addressing climate change by the Government.

Participants at the workshop. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

A workshop on the revision of the Nationally Determined Contributions, reflecting Papua New Guinea’s continued commitment to progress climate action, was held at the Hilton Hotel Port Moresby on September 4.

Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change of Papua New Guinea, Wera Mori, on officially opening the workshop, said climate change was one of the greatest challenges faced by humankind and represents an irreversible threat to societies and the planet.

Minister for Conservation, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

“The Government is committed to take action to address these challenges through efforts to adapt and increase the resilience of our people, ecosystems and economy and at the same time contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Minister Mori urged all stakeholders to work together to identify actions that can combat climate change.

UNDP, under its Climate Promise Initiative, is supporting 110 countries globally to further their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement. UNDP is proud to support this effort in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea and its Climate Change and Development Authority.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Edward Vrkic, said collaborative efforts to revise Papua New Guinea’s Nationally Determined Contributions showcase the true spirit of partnership among development partners.

“The NDC reflects a strong commitment to support the Government and its people on climate action,” he said.

Once the NDCs are finalised and presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it becomes a portfolio of actions that will deliver positive changes through sustainable development.


Stakeholders strengthen their knowledge on Safeguards Database Reporting System

Papua New Guinea has the third largest tropical forest in the world and is at the forefront of working towards fostering conservation and sustainable management of its forest ecosystems.

UNDP is working closely with government partner, the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) to look at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, also known as REDD+. Deforestation increases greenhouse gas emission contributing to climate change.

How do we promote conservation and sustainable management of forests? Can the introduction of incentives help promote this cause?

Despite the current global COVID-19 pandemic, CCDA with support of the UNDP’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s REDD+ Project held an online certification course on ‘REDD+ Safeguards Database Reporting System’.

Over 30 representatives from Government, civil society and private sector organisations benefited from this training and strengthened their knowledge on how to use the digital platform to protect the social and environmental safeguards.

Mrs. Gwen Sissiou, CCDA General Manager for REDD+ and Mitigation said, “Drawing on information from the safeguards information system (SIS) can strengthen the quality, reliability and credibility of the summaries, particularly when it comes to demonstrating improvements in reducing carbon emissions from deforestation in PNG”.

Mr. Mirzohaydar Isoev, UNDP’s Chief Technical Advisor on REDD+ said, “The online training is an example of how digitalisation can be introduced to add value to national efforts to protect natural assets.”

Image on the Left: Participants that underwent the virtual training. ©UNDP/M.Isoev


Green opportunities for clean, renewable energy in PNG

More than 80% of people in Papua New Guinea live in rural areas where access to electricity is nonexistent.

Over half (57%) use petroleum products such as kerosene and diesel to light up their homes. Only a handful (6%) use renewable energy, in solar and hydro power.

There is a need to increase the use of renewable energy in PNG rural communities to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially accelerate rural development.

Directly, renewable energy reduces poverty by increasing income generation and indirectly, empowers the poor by improving health, education, and gender equality.

Pico-hydro system can provide much needed electricity to rural communities. Seen here is Mr Steve Layton of Appropriate Technologies Project (ATP) in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Provinces explains how the mini-hydro system powers up ATP centre at the foot of the Mt Gahavisuka National Park. ©UNDP

The recent launch of the National Energy Policy by Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, highlighted the urgency of improving access to energy in meeting the development needs of the country.

The United Nations Development Programme is working in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea through the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) to facilitate the development of relevant renewable energy policies, codes and regulations to encourage and promote the use of solar and hydropower in the country.

In collaboration with line agencies such as the Department of Petroleum and Energy and the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission, the work on an off-grid code and its related regulations are underway, and drafts of the code and regulations will be circulated later in the year for stakeholder input. Specific policies for solar will now commence with the launch of the overarching energy policy 2017-2027.

Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources due to its tropical location, terrain, and the fact that it is an island nation enjoying year-round sunshine, tropical rains, winds and access to ocean currents – a green opportunity to harness energy potentials in these clean and renewable sources for rural development to, greatly improve the lives of people living in these communities.


COVID-19 will widen poverty gap between women and men, new UN Women and UNDP data shows

The pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line, reversing decades of progress to eradicate extreme poverty.

File photo: Women and girls in PNG are at risk of going below the poverty line due to COVID-19. ©UNDP

New York – The COVID-19 crisis will dramatically increase the poverty rate for women and widen the gap between men and women who live in poverty, according to new data by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The poverty rate for women was expected to decrease by 2.7 percent between 2019 and 2021, but projections now point to an increase of 9.1 percent due to the pandemic and its fallout.

The projections, commissioned by UN Women and UNDP, and carried out by the Pardee Centre for International Futures at the University of Denver, show that while the pandemic will impact global poverty generally, women will be disproportionately affected, especially women of reproductive age. By 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty (living on 1.90 USD a day or less), there will be 118 women - a gap that is expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030.

“The increases in women’s extreme poverty, in particular at these two stages of their lives, are a stark indictment of deep flaws in the ways we have constructed our societies and economies,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

“We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs – in fact, overall, women’s employment is 19% more at risk than men. The evidence we have here of multiple inequalities is critical to drive swift, restorative policy action that puts women at the heart of pandemic recovery,“ she added.

The data, summarized in a UN Women report From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19, also shows that the pandemic will push 96 million people into extreme poverty by 2021, 47 million of whom are women and girls. This will increase the total number of women and girls living in extreme poverty to 435 million, with projections showing that this number will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.

The pandemic has posed a serious threat to the prospects of eradicating extreme poverty by the end of this decade. And the reality might be even grimmer as these projections of increased poverty rates for women and girls only account for the downward revision of the gross domestic product (GDP), excluding other factors - such as women leaving the workforce due to childcare responsibilities - that may also affect the sex distribution of poverty.

“More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

“Women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis as they are more likely to lose their source of income and less likely to be covered by social protection measures. Investing in reducing gender inequality is not only smart and affordable, but also an urgent choice that governments can make to reverse the impact of the pandemic on poverty reduction,” he added.

The fallout of the pandemic will shift forecasts of extreme poverty across regions. With 59 per cent of the world’s poor women currently living in sub-Saharan Africa, the region will continue to host the highest number of the world’s extreme poor. Yet, after making significant gains in poverty reduction in the past few years, South Asia is projected to experience a resurgence in extreme poverty. By 2030, for every 100 men aged 25–34 living in poverty in Southern Asia there will be 129 poor women, an increase from 118 in 2021.

While these figures are alarming, the study estimates it would take just 0.14 percent of global GDP (USD 2 trillion) to lift the world out of extreme poverty by 2030; and US$48 billion to close the gender poverty gap. However, the real number could end up being much higher, especially if governments fail to act – or act too late.

The unabated rise of other pre-existing gender inequalities will also impact these figures. Women are employed in some of the most affected sectors, like accommodation, food services, and domestic work. They have been particularly vulnerable to layoffs and loss of livelihood. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), by June 2020, it is estimated that 72 percent of domestic workers globally had lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Women and men are both taking on more household chores and care for children and family members during lockdowns, but the majority of work still falls on the shoulders of women and girls.

Backtracking on progress is not inevitable. Recommendations to prevent women from falling behind permanently because of the pandemic range from addressing occupational segregation, gender pay gaps and inadequate access to affordable childcare to introducing economic support packages for vulnerable women to countries increasing social protection measures targeting women and girls and expanding research and data availability on the gendered impacts of COVID-19.


Work on Human Rights Film Festival begins

The Human Rights Film Festival, launched in early September, will for the first time in its ten-year history be presented virtually.

Organiser, the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) says, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s festival will use a television station.

The aim of the festival is to generate awareness on human rights advocacy. About twenty to thirty short and long films would be presented depending on the submissions by the public and the committee.

“We’re currently negotiating with a television station and planning on how best to televise these films,” said Ms Josephine Mann, UNOHCHR’s Human Rights Analyst.

Before the pandemic, venues for such screening was usually done at an auditorium and/or a lecture theater. A panel of experts in human rights abuse or issues which are depicted in the various films would be present and would discuss with the general audience.

“With Covid-19 we have to approach this differently, and we’re talking to NBC TV to use their channel to highlight the importance of this Human Rights Film Festival,” said Ms Mann.

The theme for this year’s event would be based around the current COVID-19 issues and the impact it has on the rights of people. The festival is planned for November/December this year.

Image on the right: File photo of secondary school students attending the 9th Film Festival in Port Moresby


Agriculture focused Agent Network Innovation Lab

Mobile banking is helping rural communities. Image courtesy of ©UNCDF.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has worked closely with partners and the MiBank to establish the MiBank Agent Network Innovation Lab. Project. It is aimed at designing and piloting a commercially accessible agent network management model for providing financial services to low-income populations, primarily engaged in agriculture and related sectors in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Highlands. UNCDF’s support was through grant and Technical Assistance.

The project established an Innovation Lab within the Goroka branch of MiBank which dedicatedly worked to design, test and validate Agent Network Management models.

How does the concept work? Using the MiBank ‘MiCash’ mobile banking product, MiCash allows customers to access their bank accounts using their mobile phones. The agents established in the communities enable customers have easy access to banking services. A total of eighteen agents were recruited and are now serving customers in the communities.

Please view the video to find out more.

Contact: info.png@undp.org

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