Poverty neglected in national planning

Letters

RURAL poverty in Papua New Guinea is a complex issue, caused by – among other things – low income, unequal access to the means of production, unequal access to health and education facilities, food insecurity and poor nutrition, natural resource degradation, and low empowerment.
Strategies for rural poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea must therefore simultaneously address a multitude of problems, and to be effective, they must be tailored to the geographical and cultural situations as well as an evolving external context.
Rural PNG crises are numerous and the reasons manifold, like conflicts over land tenure, non-access to natural resources, market non-accessibility, and the lack of government services.
There is a need to address rural development concerns in a more systematic and comprehensive manner because rural development is the key to forging links between economic, social, and environmental development progress.
Rural communities are of critical importance in the struggle for sustainable development, yet they tend to be neglected in the development strategies of both the government and donors.
Infant and maternal mortality in rural communities is very high but go unreported or their statistics are integrated and aggregated with those of urban or well-off communities.
It has become clear that there are close links between rural poverty and environmental degradation, and that the underlying problems must be tackled in an integrated way by protecting and expanding the environment and natural resources on which the rural people depend.
The stability and predictability of rural people’s lives is severely diminished as they lose control over the use of their land, food and environment – indeed their entire livelihood.
Not only do rural people face the destruction of their environment, but they also face the destruction of the  traditional societies which give them environmental and social security.

Alois Balar
Baining Mountains,
ENBP

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