Better boats sought for Bougainville's outer islands
The people on the increasingly difficult to live on Carteret Islands in Bougainville, are often short of food, but an NGO has a solution.
Tulele Peisa, a NGO in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville wants better services provided to help it get food to the Carterets.
The tiny islands are under threat from climate change and Tulele Peisa is moving some of the inhabitants to the Bougainville mainland.
The NGO's Ursula Rakova was in New Zealand recently for the Pacific Humanitarian Summit in Auckland.
She took time out to tell Don Wiseman about the progress in moving people and also the plight of those still behind on the Carterets where they can no longer grow any of their own food.
URSULA RAKOVA: Right now people are living on fish and just two weeks ago, my community, the community in Tinpuntz actually sent 15 bags of food to the island. This was in response to the request by the emergency and disaster services in Bougainville requesting us to support the organisation with food.
DON WISEMAN: There has been a recent disaster hasn't there with people travelling back to the Carterets and two of them lost at sea.
UR: Exactly, over the years I can remember since returning back to Bougainville, there've been at least seven boats that have gone missing, four have been found in other provinces in Papua New Guinea, two have actually gone missing, one has capsized and seven people were lost, only two survived, the boat was never found, the people were never found. And a recent one where nine people were onboard, seven were found and two went missing basically for good.
DW: Is there a problem with the boating, is there a problem with the skills of the people running the boats?
UR: The problem is not necessarily with the skills of people running the boat. We are seafarers and we have been for many generations. The problem and the issue here is the means of transportation. The banana boats, they are open banana boats. They cannot withstand the current rough weather patterns that we are facing on the island and they are just too small. Even when we are transporting food back to the island we can only put maybe about ten baskets of food. It's not enough. We need a bigger, effective means of transportation where we basically can continue to supply garden food from where we are to the islands at least to alleviate the suffering that they have.
DW: You've got a specific call to the ABG in terms of this boating.
UR: I do have a specific call in the sense that the ABG needs to look at a means of transportation that will basically carry food back and forth from mainland Bougainville to the islands and these banana boats, even the speed boat that's currently there is just not able to sustain the need for food, regular food supply to the island. Although it has the speed it doesn't have the capacity to carry the number food and quantity that needs to get back to the island. There are lots of communities on mainland Bougainville who are willing to provide food to the islanders but there is no system that they can continue to rely on to supply the food.
DW: One of the reasons you've come to New Zealand was to attend last weeks conference, was that a worthwhile exercise for you?
UR: I appreciated attending the World Humanitarian summit in the sense that there were key messages brought out in this summit and one of those was placing people at the centre of humanitarian support. To me this is basically the call and it's also reaffirmed by Pope Francis when he's talking about protection and preservation of mother earth and mother earth involves human beings and this is what the call for the world summit was basically responding to. It's main key message was you've got to place people at the centre of humanitarian support and when you're supporting people mostly affected by disasters and climate change you have to align these so that people who are basically affected also have a say on how they want this support given to them. To me this is the centre-point of everything, we cannot continue to plan outside of impacted people and displaced people. We've got to plan around what their need is and what they're saying and this includes most vulnerable communities, the disabled for example, people who are not able to do it themselves because they do not have the capacity to do it, they may have the capacity but they don't have the resources to support their initiatives so this is where the call is. To support communities who are already are initiating things and making it happen and providing that support to promote and strengthen the work they are already doing.
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