Strengthening synergies to deliver support to the rural people of Sepik

By: PNG Business News May 24, 2022

The EU Funded UN Joint STREIT Programme Steering Committee emphasises cooperation between stakeholders and partners in delivering support for the benefit of the people in East Sepik and Sanduan provinces.

The EU Funded UN Joint STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea has made progress in delivering technical assistance to the beneficiaries since the beginning of 2020. To address existing the challenges induced by COVID-19 Pandemic, there is a need to further scale up cooperation and partnership among stakeholders to speed up the pace of implementation of the envisioned support to improve agri-enterprise activities and livelihood of rural communities in the Sepik provinces. This was the highlight of the Programme Steering Committee's meeting held on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 in Vanimo, the capital of Sandaun Province.

"The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, funded by the European Union for the benefit of the people of the Sepik provinces, represents the largest opportunity ever to initiate, make and deliver a change for the better, in the daily lives of women, men and  youth, from this region," said H.E. Jernej Videtič, the EU Ambassador and the Head of Delegation to Papua New Guinea. Adding "The Programme is part of EU-PNG’s long-lasting partnership in providing innovative solutions for sustainable development to the marginalised agri-rural communities." 

"To build back better after experiencing the severe impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, the team, including the implementing agencies, public authorities and development partners, need to take new measures and scale-up coordination mechanisms at national, provincial and local levels to accelerate tackling protracted challenges and find solutions for emerging issues," underscored Roger Kara, Deputy Secretary of the Department of National Planning and Monitoring. Stressing "only by paying attention to local ownership and alignment will the long-term sustainability of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme be assured."

"The Programme has rolled out a good level of interventions, directly supporting a large number of beneficiaries,” highlighted the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i, Dirk Wagener. He further stressed that "the Programme is a joint endeavour of, not only the UN family in Papua New Guinea, but also the National Government, Provincial Administrations, and local counterparts in Greater Sepik region, and we all need to put our best to deliver the support and empowerment the people deserve."

Appreciating the contributions made by all partners in delivering support to the target beneficiaries in the Sepik, Takayuki Hagiwara, the FAO Asia-Pacific Regional Programme Leader, called on all involved parties to take firm measures to roll out the planned activities on the ground for the benefit of the rural population in the region to help them have better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. He also emphasized the increased coordination with the Government, EU and other UN agencies to bring back the project on the right track and recover from the delay, while affirming FAO’s strong commitment on the delivery of the workplan.  

Since January 2020, the Programme has reached out and provided technical assistance and support to 55,000 households and 331,000 people in 40 Local Level Governments (LLGs) in Greater Sepik.

Regarding its work plan, this joint project has achieved the following results for community benefits:

  • Distributed nearly 290,000 cocoa pod borer-tolerant seedlings from main and satellite nurseries.
  • Established more than 250 cocoa budwood gardens in strategic locations across different districts, LLGs and wards in the Sepik.
  • Created and supported the registration of more than 300 cluster groups and cooperatives in cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains.
  • Trained nearly 13,000 lead farmers and extension officers (including 20 percent women and 25 percent youth) in the cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains.
  • Organised sensitisation and awareness campaigns on the important role of women and youth in the agri-food value chains and the need to mainstream gender and youth perspectives in these value chains. This benefited 9,241 women, youths, students, and men.
  • Provided maintenance to 120 km of farm-to-market roads out of the initial 310 km targeted (18 feeder roads).
  • Capacitated 140 entrepreneurs from 70 local companies (contractors) in road construction, e-bidding, contract management, contract procurement, control quality, decent works and quality delivery for competitive bidding, including in EU-STREIT PNG projects.
  • Developed and officially launched the web-based Road Transport Information Management System (RoTIMS), tailored for conditions in PNG and trained 40 Government officers its usage.
  • Supported the connection of 13,681 beneficiaries to mobile wallets and 16,398 rural people to bank accounts, and the creation of 80 new banking access points across the Greater Sepik region.
  • Developed E-Agriculture Strategies for 2 Sepiks and draft of the national "Quality of Service Framework" for NICTA on improved Mobile Broadband Connectivity.
  • Trained 90 agripreneurs, NGOs' members and lead farmers and government officers, on Digital Agriculture and Financial Inclusion.

The EU-STREIT PNG, as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. Being implemented in close cooperation with the National and provincial government institutions, research entities, civil society organisations, and private sector enterprises, the Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains while strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.

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