Installation of solar power to support rural communities in Papua New Guinea

by PNG Business News - July 11, 2022

EU-STREIT PNG preparing to install micro grid solar panels in selected public facilities to support cocoa, vanilla and fisheries entrepreneurs as well as livelihoods of rural communities.

To create an enabling environment for cocoa, vanilla and fisheries entrepreneurs and to generate real possibility for economic growth that will enhance the livelihoods of rural communities, the UNDP under the EU-Funded Joint UN STREIT PNG Programme, is closing in on preparatory works with stakeholders to install solar generated clean and renewable electrical energy in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea.

In a one-day workshop organised by the Programme in Wewak, East Sepik Province, on Thursday 23 June, participating stakeholders from Division of Education, Sepik Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Mission, Division of Health and Catholic Health Service came together to discuss and gauge feedback from beneficiaries on the installation of micro grid solar systems in six identified facilities.

The selected recipients in East Sepik Province are Taul Community Health Post in Turubu area of Wewak District, Nagum Adventist Secondary in Yangoru-Saussia District and the Catholic Health Service-run Dagua Community Health Centre along west coast highway in Wewak District. The beneficiaries in Sandaun Province are all located in Vanimo-Green District namely Don Bosco Technical School, Vanimo Secondary and Baro Community Health Post. These education and health facilities are located in areas with limited or no access to grid-connected electricity.

Opening the workshop was Head of FAO Country Office in Papua New Guinea Mr Bir Mandal who was visiting Wewak to support the programme to expedite the programme implementation and enhancing partnerships with East Sepik Provincial Government. Mr Mandal draw attention to the global scenario on energy access and what this means for the Greater Sepik Region and PNG. “A third of the 2.6 billion people in the world still do not have access to safe, clean fuels and technologies for cooking or heating their homes, at significant health, social and environmental costs. In PNG, only 15% of the total population of about 8 million have access to grid connected electricity.”

He added: “For change to occur, we need to reset our energy systems and put people into the centre – ensuring that these systems are cleaner, more secure, more resilient, and totally inclusive.”

“Under the Programme, we’re working together with relevant Government of PNG (GoPNG) agencies at the national level and our target provinces to ensure communities in the agri-value chain get connected to electricity via renewable energy sources. This initiative will contribute to the GoPNG’s energy access target as outlined in the Medium-Term Development Plan III and various development plans, policy frameworks and regulatory instruments,” said Mr Mandal.

Despite the disruption in the global supply chain by the Pandemic which has put a strain on the progress of this effort, UNDP’s Project Manager, Ms Karen Anawe, said, “I’m pleased to announce that preparatory works are now underway to ensure we assist the government to close the energy access gap by promoting clean energy and a transition towards a low carbon economy in our focus areas.”

Ms Anawe said the meeting also discussed sustainability and ownership arrangements of these micro grid solar systems.

For the recipients, unreliable electricity supply has been an ongoing dilemma for years, hence the support will give confidence as well as strengthening their operations to service better the rural people.

“Nagum Secondary is a recipient of this support and I like to say thank you to the European Union as financiers of this impact project, not only for the school, but for the community at large. We’re glad that the solar project in the future will gather for students from the Sepik provinces, and also from Madang and Morobe,” said Mr Jeffrey Saigomi, Secretary for Sepik SDA Mission.

For Dagua Community Health Centre, serving sick patients after hours or in the night has been an concern for some years because of no proper lighting. “This is a big help to us, especially for the people living along west coast including Dagua LLG. The solar power will provide sufficient lights for sick patients in our wards. It will also help with some emergencies we conduct after hours and in the night like attending to deliveries and injuries from road accidents mainly,” said Mr Ignatius Burr, Health Extension Officer. The rural health facility services some 100,000 plus rural population of Dagua LLG including those from Boikin LLG. Despite being handicapped in its operations, the facility is known for being the first to attend to some very serious road accident injuries along the west coast highway before referrals are made to Boram General Hospital in Wewak Town.

A feasibility assessment for renewable energy power was conducted in early 2021 for the region, and six facilities were identified for solar energy installation.

The UNDP under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme supports development and improvement of renewable energy to create an enabling environment that will embrace development of the three targeted value chains which thousands of rural communities in the Sepik Region depend on to sustain their livelihoods.

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 organizations, 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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Supporting farmers with tools and materials to produce quality cocoa and vanilla in Papua New Guinea

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PNG Business News - July 06, 2022

Contracts signed for rehabilitation and specific maintenance of first 4 roads in EU-STREIT PNG

To create an enabling environment including farm-to-market roads to support cocoa, vanilla and fisheries farmers in the Greater Sepik Region, the ILO under EU Funded UN Joint STREIT PNG Programme, has recently engaged three local contractors to commence rehabilitation and specific maintenance of four farm-to-market access roads totalling 52.1 km in the Sepik Region of Papua New Guinea. The ILO signed the contracts with three local firms last week. The contracted firms are Hiawani Limited for the rehabilitation of 7.8 km Banak-Wautogik road in Wewak District, Midway Pacific Ltd for the Specific Maintenance of 12.8 km Balif-Araseli road in Maprik District, and Kaystar Construction Ltd for two (2) roads; Rehabilitation of a 6.5 km Munji-Haripmo road in Yangoru-Saussia District, and Specific Maintenance of 25 km Pasi-Krisa road in Vanimo-Green District, Sandaun Province.  These roads were selected based on high production of vanilla, cocoa and fisheries in the areas that are supported under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. The contract duration of these specific lots and packages are 12 months and the contractors have been given two weeks to mobilise their resources including machineries to commence road works by 15 July 2022. The ILO Engineer will conduct regular supervision, monitoring and monthly meetings to discuss work progress, challenges and way forward. “We will not only monitor, we will be satisfied to support you by providing technical training to the key personnel of the contractors for continuous capacity development and quality assurance of sub-projects,” explained Mr Shailendra Kumar Jha, ILO’s Infrastructure Specialist/Chief Technical Advisor under the EU-STREIT PNG. “Given the delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which has put a strain on the progress, I’m pleased to announce that this is a milestone achievement for the road transport infrastructure component to ensure we assist the government in its efforts to bring markets closer to the unreached in our focus areas,” said Dr Xuebing Sun, EU-STREIT PNG Programme Coordinator. The contractors were selected through the competitive bidding process using e-portal of United Nation Global Market Place (UNGM) to ensure principle of sustainable procurement of ILO. This is a totally new practice in the case of PNG where local contractors were trained on e-bidding and successfully submitted their bids using UNGM and ILO electronic Tendering System (eTS). As part of EU-STREIT PNG’s mandate to support capacity development, all contractors including their personnel will undergo training in technical areas like contract management and administration, Supervision, Quality Assurance and Quality Control, Material Testing and Laboratory Practice, environmental and social safeguards, occupational safety and health at construction site, and modern survey techniques using GIS (geographic information system) and Total Station. This is to ensure delivery of quality road transport works for EU-STREIT Programme in the Sepik Region while also fulfil PNG government’s requirement to develop professional contractors in the country. The contractors were excited and looking forward to complete sub-projects within allocated time frame of 12 months. Mr David Bannah of Midway Pacific Ltd said: “We’re very fortunate because we’re learning a lot of new things here, especially the UN ILO procurement process through e-bidding. As a local contractor I’m so proud to be associated with the Programme.” Mr Pious Hiawani of Hiawani Ltd added: “We know the ILO team will help us to become better contractors and many rural people will benefit here so I like to thank European Union (EU)-the donor agency and ILO under the STREIT Programme.” Under road transport infrastructure component led by ILO, 15 rural roads in the Sepik totalling 264kms in length will be rehabilitated to support the market access initiative implemented by the EU-STREIT PNG for rural farming communities to boost agriculture production and agribusiness activities pertaining to the three targeted value chains for an improved income and cash flow for the rural sector. The roads will also support other agricultural, business, social and community activities and facilities like schools, aid posts and health centres that are in dire need of better accessible roads. 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 organizations, 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. 


PNG Business News - July 15, 2022

Training farmers to treat farming as a business in Papua New Guinea

Appreciating farming as a sustainable and viable business practice is the message from PNG Agriculture Company’s PNG Agbook who are partners with the UNCDF in the EU Funded Joint STREIT PNG Programme. PNG Agbook working with the PNG Cocoa Board, organized two sets of trainings for rural farmers in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. A total of 23 farmers who represented farmer groups and agribusinesses in the Sandaun and East Sepik provinces were eager participants in the trainings conducted recently over a two-week period at the PNG Cocoa Board nursery site in Hawain, Wewak District, East Sepik Province. Facilitating the sessions was owner and Managing Director of PNG Agbook Company, Ms Nicole Isifu, a committed young woman inspired to challenge existing farming practices and to drive an increase in more active youth participation in agriculture – as entrepreneurs rather than as part-timers and labourers. The first module was on ‘financial literacy’ while the second session focused on ‘farming as a business’. Two participants manual booklets with simple instructions on topics covered in the sessions were also given to participants to take home and read at their own time. Farming as a Business Manual contains topics like Basics of Money, Financial Fitness, Savings, Budgeting and Borrowing. While the Farm Business Plan booklet contains subjects like Farm Production Plan, Market Plan, Farm Business Profitability and Managing Risks. “While farming provides a means for meeting household subsistence needs, the rationale is to add value out of this practice that must be business like and this is where financial literacy knowledge and farm management skills are crucial and necessary for rural communities in realizing the value  of agriculture  for an improved income and sustainable participation and living,” explained the EU Funded UN Joint STREIT Programme Coordinator Dr Xuebing Sun. The participants also benefitted from the presence of three other UNCDF financial institution partners under the EU Funded STREIT Programme. MiBank, WMBL (Mama Bank) and Cellmoni (Digicel) were invited to make special presentations to the farmers on their savings requirements, loan eligibility and the different products and services that are available to the three value chains.  The farmers attended as Trainers-of-Trainers and were expected to return to their clusters/groups to train other members including youths and women so this important knowledge to appreciate and practice farming as a business is passed on to others for a collective change in mindset by all in rural communities. For the participants, contents of the training were excellent and relevant to their household and farming needs where they can easily implement in their local areas. “We didn’t know how to save money with the bank so in times of need we can apply for small loans. If this training had come earlier, I think PNG would have change a lot,” said Xavier Kapia, a single male farmer from Mupa Cocoa Farming Group of Angoram District, East Sepik. “When I have a family, my children should not face the challenges of not completing their education just because of school fee problems. I will start saving now,” added Kapia who is still enjoying a young life. The training was beneficial to farmer groups as well to operate like a business. “With this financial literacy skills, we can now prepare proper documentations as one of the requirements of lending agencies to access small loans. My executives are village boys so I can go back and train them,” said Jimmy Makain, the Executive Officer of Wape Agriculture Marketing Group in the Lumi District of Sandaun Province. The group has a membership of 56 clusters comprising 1300 plus member farmers which includes youths and women from East and West Wape LLGs.   UNCDF partner under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, MiBank, opened 22 new accounts from this meeting, not only from the participants, but also from locals living within the vicinity of the training area. The UNCDF under EU-STREIT PNG and in collaboration with local partners support implementation of activities related to access finance, rural banking and cashless banking systems. The Programme also support financial literacy of the beneficiaries and an improved business environment. The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a UN joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region, which focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through Increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and 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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