The National,Wednesday18 January 2012
By GABRIEL LAHOC
STUDENT volunteers of the Sago Network, a volunteer group that recently completed a water and sanitation project in Laukanu and Kelkel villages in Salamaua, Huon Gulf district of Morobe, have called on the
provincial and national governments to prioritise low cost but effective approaches such as theirs.
The Sago Network is a volunteer team of design and development professionals and students from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech), who facilitate community impact projects in rural Papua New Guinea, and was recently engaged in the Huon Gulf district.
The Sago Studio 2011 project featured the collaborative effort of nine students from the UTS and eight from Unitech, who were put into teams in four main areas – master-planning, water wells, washing areas and toilets – for both Kelkel and Laukanu villages.
Nickson Haveo, a third year bachelor in building student at Unitech, made the call on behalf of his fellow student volunteers during the official opening of the community toilets.
He said as students and individuals, they had learnt a lot from that project, especially in the area of consultation and collaboration with the locals and equipping them with the necessary confidence and exposure.
Laukanu and Kelkel locals agreed that the approach by the Sago Network cut down on unnecessary and expensive unprofessional contractors who were normally engaged by the district and leaders at costly rates, with many doing incomplete jobs.
Sago Network leaders Brandon Worsley and Lachlan Delaney confirmed the cost of the project was K105,000 and received from Huon Gulf district.
The people said the infrastructure development work in the two neighbouring communities was more than the actual funding expectation.
The student volunteers worked for five weeks from 6am to 6pm, and went out of their way to include landscaping on their project sites and extra maintenance work on classrooms.
They agree that such an approach that engaged tertiary students into rural areas during their breaks would go a long way in developing the nation.
Salamaua local level government president Joshua Haggai said funds were available and the LLG and the district would continue such engagements with the Sago Network.