Despite many obstacles, particularly in terms of communications infrastructure and access to remote areas, the Sepik Wetlands Management Initiative has achieved important results.
A great deal of work was put into developing and increasing understanding of basic rights contained in the country’s Constitution as well as understanding people’s rights in relation to documenting evidence and presenting it to the mining company. Much more work is necessary in this area as knowledge of basic rights is scant.
A second outcome has been increased awareness of the kind of critical information and tools needed by villagers to make informed decisions. Many more resources and organizations have been brought to bear on the problems faced by different communities. The project is now focused on coordinating different networking opportunities.
A consensus-driven plan for a communication strategy was approved by villagers in the Middle Sepik region. There is a growing awareness among the local people of the urgent need for more sophisticated communication channels. However, there are problems insofar as Internet by phone is available but costly, making it almost inaccessible to the majority.
The project has instilled a sense of hope, a need to engage and a need to change but also a realization that there are many steps to take before people have the capacity to respond effectively. Villagers have indicated a great desire to get organized in order to build the partnerships needed and take further steps to achieving their goal. The logistical and funding challenges cannot be ignored.
However, the local people are continuing the struggle and will make renewed efforts to communicate their concerns in every way possible.
Thank you to all those who have supported this vital work!