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Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea

by Bismark Ramu Group
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Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
Land is Life - Land Justice for Papua New Guinea
KarKar Islanders walkathon against seabed mining
KarKar Islanders walkathon against seabed mining

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors has filed a legal case against the PNG government at the Waigani National Court on Thursday 7th, December 2017.  

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors (local villages) based in the west coast of New Ireland Province  has called on the government to openly discuss necessary and relevant documents related to seabed mining.  The available records should identify who was involved in approving the project and on what grounds and why it was approved.

A local leader from west coast New Ireland and a member of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors says that people in the villages strongly oppose seabed mining, as it will directly affect their lives as they depend entirely on the sea for their livelihood. 

The impacts of this project are unknown at this stage with no independent environmental studies having taken place.

Should the project proceed serious negative impacts will arise in the local and national economy with great constraints placed on local fishing cooperatives, fisheries sector and informal eco-tourism sector for the people.  

Nautilus never consulted the local people in regards to the project. Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) did not take place anywhere in the communities that will be impacted by the project.

Individuals signed the MOA for the Solwara 1 project with very little attention given to the local people’s concerns.    

People in New Ireland continuously stated that they own both the land and the sea and the mining will greatly affect their lifestyle with shark calling will be an obvious case of a dying culture.  

New Ireland does not need Seabed mining. It has the sea, fish, cocoa and coconut and other renewable resources with sustainable benefits. 

Support from around PNG is starting to increase. The people of KarKar Island in Madang Province where Nautilus first tried to invade but were pushed back by the local people raised K1500.00 through a walkathon all around the island to support the people in New Ireland.

Alliance of Solwara Warriors all across the Bismarck Sea have now collectively stood up in solidarity to put pressure on Nautilus to pack up and leave.  

Where the destruction is scheduled to begin
Where the destruction is scheduled to begin
Dusk in area Nautilus wants to "mine"
Dusk in area Nautilus wants to "mine"
Dawn in the area Nautilus seeks to "mine"
Dawn in the area Nautilus seeks to "mine"
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Investigative Analysis ESM Duke of York Island
Investigative Analysis ESM Duke of York Island

 

Bismarck Ramu Group CHANGE STORY

ABOUT Bismarck Ramu Group

1. GENESIS

The Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) is an offshoot of the Bismarck Ramu Group Interacted and Development Project (BRICADP). This was a 5 year project jointly administered and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Department of Environment and Conservation which is the current Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) and an NGO called the Christensen Research Institute (CRI).

The project started in 1996 and ended in 1999. The objective of the project was to conserve the Bismarck Ramu Area situated between Jiwaka, Simbu and Madang Provinces of Papua New Guinea. The area is a biodiversity hotspot encompassing unique flora and fauna.

The boundaries of the project area were the Bismarck Range in Jiwaka, the Marum River flowing from Mt Wilhem in Simbu to Madang; the Simbai River flowing from Jiwaka to Madang and the Ramu River in Madang.

Lessons learnt from other development projects in the country including the Lak Integrated Conservation and Development Project (LICADP) in New Ireland province guided the formation of the BRICADP ensuring NOT to repeat the mistakes done in those projects.

The Bismarck Ramu Group Integrated Conservation (BRICAD) and the Lak ICAD failed projects provided the basis for BRG to restructure and refocus its work to suit the present pressing development issues. These projects provided very vital challenges which has set the priority for BRG to refocus its work . Failure of these projects resulted from overspending and decline of financial resources hence undermining the local resource owners’ ability to take up conservation and development work conscientiously. Financial resources and cargo mentaility in development have been identified as disempowering and allowing deattachement in local resource areas with little emphasis on local people to be self-reliant to sustain development initiatives.

When BRICADP came to a close at the end of 2009, the BRICADP staff members continued to work with communities in the Bismarck Ramu Area under the Bismarck Ramu Group as an NGO.

 2. EXODUS

The journey of BRG as an NGO commenced 2000 where the UNDP provided bridging funds for that year. This was to allow BRG to look for additional funding from elsewhere. The same year, the Inter-church Organization for Development Corporation (ICCO) from the Netherlands and Bread for the World from Germany jointly funded BRG.

Below is a timeline with bullet points of the most significant shifts/changes in the life of the BRG:

2001

  • BRG was officially registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) in March 2001.
  • An independent team evaluation team was put together to find out if BRG had the capacity to run as an NGO.
  • The goal was to continue to conserve the environment.
  • The 7-Step Community Development Process (CDP) and the Conservation Process utilized in engaging with communities and continued to be refined. These processes were organic and home grown; basically based on field experience.
  • BRG started to work with other communities outside of the Bismarck Ramu Area.
  • 3 programs – Community Development, Education and Church
  • Target groups mainly were communities, churches and schools

2002

  • BRG refocused, its goal changed from conservation of the environment to land is life. This was with the help of an evaluation team that did the evaluation that year. The evaluation team found that BRG was much more into land than the environment. The Melanesian and holistic perspective of land was defined.
  • Church Program disbanded and replaced by the Campaign Program

2003-2010

  • Goal – Land is Life
  • Realization that the outside force was coming at a fast rate and having an impact in the lives of the people and their resources.
  • Because of the above, BRG came up with a 4 Step Community Development Process.
  • BRG concentrated more into helping communities to organize.
  • Community Development Workers changed to Community Organizers
  • Community Development Program was changed to Community Organizing
  • Literacy program was dropped
  • As part of teaching at the schools, the Education Program started using puppets in schools as one way of disseminating information.
  • More structure was put in the organization to guide the organization.
  • Realization in 2005-2006 the importance to organize and promote peoples’ development to strengthen its campaign against the dominant model of development. The concept of Appropriate Technology trialed in BRG but later disbanded in 2007.
  • At the end of 2010, Campaigns beefed up. Because of this, more attention was given to media

2010-2012

  • Had a much clearer understanding of the Model of Development and its connection to mining, logging, land grab etc.
  • Major restructure in BRG, this determined the strategies and approaches used
  • Goal was Land is Life
  • BRG changed its strategy of working with individual communities to working with key, organized, strategic and influential groups and institutions. BRG had to step up in-order to respond to the massive exploitation caused by the dominant model of development which was coming in at enormous speed.
  • The Community Organizing Program was changed to Community Facilitation
  • 3 programs – Media, Networking and Training
  • Came up with a 2 Step Community Development Process

 2013

  • Goal – Land is Life
  • Focused in challenging the dominant model of development, promoting PNG ways and investing in young people.
  • The Campaign program was dropped, the understanding was that the organization as a whole was campaigning.
  • No Community Development Process
  • Emphasis was on information gathering, processing, packaging and dissemination

 2015 to Now

  • Goal – Land is Life
  • Emphasis in being proactive, shaping and influencing the future
  • Targeting organized groups, organizations and institutions
  • More emphasis on rethinking development
  • Linking up with others in the region in challenging the beast.
  • Continue to focus not only in challenging the dominant model however promoting peoples’ ways of sustaining themselves and investing in young people.

Note: Elements of the life of the organization is captured in Race for the Rainforest Part 2, Cash verse Conservation, Through the Thicket etc.

BRG HAS NOT REACHED ITS REVELATION PHASE OF ITS STORY; IT IS STILL IN ITS EXODUS PHASE.

This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving's 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn't go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Community Awareness, Seabed mining KarKar Island.
Community Awareness, Seabed mining KarKar Island.
Fight to BAN Freida Mine in Sepik
Fight to BAN Freida Mine in Sepik
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A crocodile dancer
A crocodile dancer

The Sepik River is home to one of world’s largest freshwater crocodiles and saltwater crocodile population. Crocodile a symbolism of strength, power and manhood with well-articulated legend and beliefs forms a strong cultural connection in the Sepik river region.

The crocodile holds a significant resemblance of a society that is strong and powerful that prides itself of a people who are absolved to their heritage. Haus Tambarans (sacred men’s house) a manifesto of strength and account of a culture that has deeper cultural links. Men gained strength to lead and discipline their communities within the men’s house that often associated with the crocodile.

Crocodiles and river gods are an extraordinaire phenomenon that intensifies the potency of manhood. The initial initiation process of taking young boys into the men’s house and having their back skin cut like crocodile illustrates the sacred and cultural link of a people with physical and spiritual ambiance.

Crocodile and Sepik River communities is a very distinguish cultural connection. A cultural society which is very much connected to the river which serves to hold a rich cultural diversity of knowledge, beliefs and systems of a people considered to be having pride in their own cultural background and the crocodile.

Not only is the Sepik River sustain humanity but because of its beauty and very strange make up. Yambon gates a natural feature of two rock walls forming mountains on both sides of the river. The water flows around the rocks then make a full swirl before flowing again. This is a natural scenario that complements the value of large natural stream of waters.  

Sepik River a holistic sanctuary of life for its humanity and all its living inhabitants. The Sepik River the ideal vegetation for sago palms and a consistent supply fish and other food supply from the river has been the sustainable diet for the local people. The river gives life to thousands of communities all characterized by their own holistic make up of their tribes, clans and villages holistically and closely knitted to the river.  

The local livelihood is very much influenced by the river. The river is the safety net that holds together a huge region characterized by its own geographic features and cultural make up. Crocodile adds a certain kind of feature that reflects a group of people who are assertive and very bold in defending their heritage.

The Sepik River one of the world’s largest river systems and home to world’s mammal species with its Flora & Fauna is under threat if the mine undergoes operation in 2018. If you want to save the mighty Sepik River please donate now to Land –Land Justice for Papua New Guinea project now!

Deep crocodile skin cutting ritual for men
Deep crocodile skin cutting ritual for men
Man & haus tambaran a holistic bond
Man & haus tambaran a holistic bond
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BRG's team of Sepik landowners on their journey
BRG's team of Sepik landowners on their journey

Forewarnings down the Fly River”

With the support of our generous donors, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) is happy to announce that we have successfully sent a team of West Sepik landowners to the harshly polluted Fly River. In doing so, the landowners were able to witness with their own eyes the destruction caused by the Ok Tedi mine tailings. What they observed energized them to continue their fight against the construction of the notorious Frieda mine which threatens the integrity of their own mighty Sepik River.

The Ok Tedi Mine is an open pit gold and copper mine in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea and is considered by many to have caused one of the most catastrophic man-made environmental disasters in the world. Careless and cut-rate waste disposal has resulted in over 2 billion tons of cyanide laced toxic discharge flowing directly into the Ok Tedi River over the past three decades. Consequently, the pollution has fed into the Fly River, the largest river in all of Papua New Guinea, devastating over 1000 kilometers of previously pristine and virgin jungle. Not only has the environmental impact been immense, but the mine has destroyed the homes and lives of thousands of villagers downstream.

After a long two days of travel, the Sepiks were first brought to the village of Nigerum along the highway towards where the Ok Tedi River dumps into the Fly. What they found shocked them. The communities cannot use the river for drinking, fishing, or washing because of the heavy sedimentation buildup. Instead they must travel kilometers inland to find clean food and water. As a result, many of the people are malnourished and sick, unable to effectively feed their families or even themselves. “These people are clearly hungry but have nothing to eat,” one of the Sepiks noted.

The Sepiks proceeded down the Fly River to Karengo. As their boat slowly moved with the current, the water was described as milky and cloudy. Along the way, they witnessed 5-6 kilometers of dead jungle with no signs of life. When they met with the Karengo villagers, it was explained to them that due to the heavy sedimentation buildup, the water level rises quickly during heavy rains, in turn waterlogging the surrounding rainforest with the river’s toxins. Because of this, the villagers have lost their gardens and sources of timber for shelter, as well as their staple food, sago. One of the Sepiks remarked, “You can feel the environment; it feels like death.” These communities, like the Sepiks, are not driven by money in the economic sense that westerners are familiar with, but instead, they derive their wealth from the richness of their land. However, because of large scale development these people have lost everything.

Officials claimed that development of the Ok Tedi mine was supposed to bring jobs and welfare to the indigenous people. However, as the Sepiks saw for themselves, these benefits failed to trickle down to the more rural communities. As the pollution began to decimate their precious resources, native peoples began to migrate to more urban settings. Doctors and teachers left, deserting their clinics and schools. Stripped of their food, water, health, and education, those that remained have been slowly relocating to Kiunga to, ironically, find work with the mine that has so shattered their lives. In fact, many of the villages the Sepiks stumbled upon along the desolate Fly were found to be abandoned.

This widespread environmental and social destruction opened the eyes of the Sepik landowners as they face a similar threat to their own waters. Officials at the proposed Frieda gold mine in West Sepik are preparing to start development on the mighty Sepik River as soon as possible. Reportedly, the mine will be three times the size of the Ok Tedi with a potential to do much more harm as the Sepik river is significantly smaller than the Fly. Emotional, angry, and upset with what they observed, the Sepik landowners left the Western Province with a strengthened commitment to stop the construction of Frieda mine. As they themselves derive their livelihood from the river, they will do whatever it takes to prevent their precious land from becoming uninhabitable.

The Sepik landowners have been swift in preparing a strategy. Within 2 days of returning to Wewak, they will present to the 6 district members of parliament on what they saw. If this plan of action fails, they will continue with protesting the provincial government and spreading awareness throughout the region, mobilizing rural communities to join the fight. Despite great odds, the Sepiks are hopeful for the future of their river, reporting confidence in the resources they have to work with.

Want to help support the Sepiks in protecting the sanctity of their river? Donate to BRG’s “Land is Life” Project now!

Mine tailings in the Ok Tedi River
Mine tailings in the Ok Tedi River
Family preparing to migrate to Kiunga for food
Family preparing to migrate to Kiunga for food
Kadinge students protesting Frieda mine
Kadinge students protesting Frieda mine
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A local representative giving his presentation
A local representative giving his presentation

Local representatives from coastal communities of PNG got an opportunity to express their strong opposition to Experimental Seabed Mining at the annual Caritas PNG retreat in early March. The purpose of this exposition was to inform the arm of the Catholic Bishops Council about Experimental Seabed Mining and give an account on what the proposed Experimental mining is really all about, what it entails and how they feel PNG is being used by the mining industry..

The presentation called for the Catholic community to join them in saying BAN to Experimental Seabed Mining in PNG in line with churches responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation.

The presentation was well received. Feedback from participants was overwhelming and supportive as the church got to hear directly from the people who will be impacted should the proposed mining go ahead.

The Catholic Church through Caritas PNG is now looking into ways to assist and raise more awareness on Experimental Seabed Mining in their respective dioceses, parishes and communities. They are also looking into partnering with other churches and community based organisations (CBOs) to mount a strong awareness campaign in support of the people in the area.

Stay tuned as it appears the local community reps have moved the Catholic Church to begin to take an active role on the Experimental Seabed Mining issue throughout PNG and the Pacific.

Group of local representatives
Group of local representatives
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Organization Information

Bismark Ramu Group

Location: Madang - Papua New Guinea
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Bismark Ramu Group
Julianne Sapi
Project Leader:
Julianne Sapi
Madang, Madang Papua New Guinea

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This project is no longer accepting donations.
 

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