The National, Friday 11th November 2011
THE Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) recently embarked on a comprehensive engagement process to help local communities in Porgera improve their quality of life using a system called participatory rural appraisal (PRA).
The purpose of this process was to engage communities from the special mining lease area (SML) in Porgera to discuss their aspirations and priorities for development activites designed to improve their living condition.
Coordinated by the PJV community social responsibility department, the PRA sessions were also attended by a multi-disciplinary team from the mine consisting of environment and asset protection department personnel.
Phases 1 and 2 of the process had seen the PJV team visit 21 villages in the SML area and commence a dialogue with community members on the issues of population, health and nutrition, education, sanitation and governance.
The information obtained during these sessions was then analysed to help create development priorities.
Phase 3 will see formal community development plans being designed consultatively between the community, PJV and local government and non-governmental organisations, to better inform the rural planning processes of those agencies.
The plans would then be implemented across the SML villages with a view to expanding the project to the broader Porgera District in the coming year.
This exercise is the first use of the PRA process in the Porgera Valley and it had been well received by the communities involved.
Participatory rural appraisal – sometimes known as rapid rural appraisal – was an approach used by development professionals as they develop partnerships within communities for enhanced joint development outcomes.
PRA is a semi-structured activity carried out in the field by a multi-disciplinary team and is designed to quickly acquire new information about rural life.
As a tool to investigate rural community realities, the PRA process recognised that people who lived in the community were those best placed to identify barriers to development and ways to overcome those barriers.