By JAMES G. KILA
FOUR rural women’s groups from Uya Village in ward 13 of Astrolabe Bay LLG in Rai Coast district, Madang displayed their appreciation and gratitude to a delegation from Ramu NiCo (MCC) and the Coastal Pipeline Women’s Association on Thursday, Feb 27 in spectacular fashion.
The reception which was literally fitting for celebrities or Members of Parliament (MPs) somehow saw the excited women attired in uniformed meri-blouses line up at the entrance into the village and singing choruses and dancing while heartily presenting colourful bilums as gifts to the visitors as they approached the village arena.
The Uya women also showered the visitors with flower petals to visibly display their appreciation towards the mining company’s continuous support in promoting gender equality and participation within its impacted communities.
The joyous occasion also witnessed the launching of four pioneer community agri-business projects established by the women of Uya community. These include three poultry projects and a community trade store.
Uya village can be reached from the Madang-Lae highway and is situated about 30km southwest of Madang town after turning left into Ato village and passing Erima-Rai Coast highway junction. Although the setting is in close proximity to town most vital services, particularly infrastructure are in sorry state.
In January this year the Uya Women’s Group was given K10,000 from the Coastal Pipeline Women’s Association 1 per cent development grant from the Ramu NiCo Project royalty payment. From their development grant, the Uya women were able to identify four agri-business projects which they had established which are now in operation for over a couple of months.
The launching was in itself historical for these once neglected women folks. It demonstrated how they had mobilised to use the royalty development grant with the establishment of four pioneer micro agri-business ventures never before seen before in the area.
The first group who called themselves Saya ventured into poultry project from a K2,500 allocation and raised 50 day-old chicks. The group sold 88 per cent of the mature live chicken and generated an income of K1,320 from their first sale.
Likewise, the second group Aumado also ventured into a poultry project with the allocation from CPLWA and raised an initial 50 day-old chicks. The group sold 90 per cent of the live chicken in its first sale and generated K1,350. The group during the launching obtained second box of day-old chicks.
The third group, Busda also ventured into poultry project and generated an income of K1,220 from their first sale of live chickens.
The fourth group ventured into trade store and spent K448 on getting goods. Profit generated since January was around K1,220.
The guest at the launching and Ramu NiCo CA Gender and Ramu Nico’s Sustainable Agriculture Supervisor, Allan Wahwah congratulated the women of Uya, stating that although the funding their received was not much but from income generated so far within just a month definitely indicated positive signs for growth.
“It’s not a million or thousands of kina you’ve been given, you started with K400 on trade store and generated an income of over K1,000 and that is a very good sign for growth,” Wahwah said.
He urged the three poultry project groups to continue their operation and to see growth.
“You began with one box of day-old chicks, and then to two boxes. Later you must go to four boxes and later go into piggery project or even buy a truck later to transport women from Uya to sell fresh produce at the market in Madang town,” Wahwah said.
He said the community projects the women had initiated would be a stepping stone to other new developments and projects to come later.
Wahwah further clarified to the women and men leaders who were present that the Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Community Affairs Gender and Sustainable Development Office firmly believed that its current and future interventions would create avenues for Papua New Guineans such as the women of Uya community to take part in the development processes.
He mentioned those processes including empowering the women through improved education in agri-business and life skills; working the land and benefitting from spin-offs from major resource projects like Ramu NiCo; enhancing the level of service delivery and basic infrastructure and increasing trade volume.
The chairlady of the Serino Women’s Group of Uya village, Miriam Mejao thanked the Ramu NiCo project and the chairlady of the CPLWA, Ruth Kamai who had gone out of her way to conduct awareness in the area to mobilize the women to access support from the royalty development grant.
Treasurer of the CPLWA, Tinna Parara was emotional when she addressed the gathering, stating that in the last eight years she had been spending her time in the affairs of women in the Coastal Pipeline areas she was never presented a bilum as a gift. What the Uya women had done to her was something she would treasure for a lone time.
She urged the women to be God-fearing and always work together in harmony to see their project expand for the benefit of majority.
“A person who fears God and listens and leads by example will never go wrong in his/her ambition for success,” Parara said.
Former ward 13 ward councilor, Balewa Peudi expressed his gratitude to Ramu NiCo (MCC) Community Affairs Gender and Agriculture Section for its on-going technical assistance to the women in project impact communities including Basamuk, Coastal Pipeline, Inland and Kurumbukari.
- James G. Kila works as supervisor with Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Public Relations section in Madang.