BY MICHAEL ARNOLD
For the first time in 42 years and 10 successive parliamentary administrations, the people of Konakou village in the Rigo district of Central Province finally have improved access to fresh, potable water.
Unfortunately, the plight of Konakou villagers over the past decades is typical of many isolated rural villages in a majority of the 6, 000 wards throughout PNG.
With a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.156, PNG currently ranks 154 out of a total of 188 countries on the global Human Development Indices.
PNG is one of only two countries in the South Pacific region who place among the 50 lowest HDI rankings in the world (including Solomon Islands, which ranks 156 with a HDI of 0.515).
Department of Provincial and Local Level Governments (DPLLG) secretary, Dickson Guina, during the launching of the Konakou village gravity feed water project, urged for a more dynamic and collaborative drive towards improving PNGs human development indicators.
“I want to encourage our national departments, especially national planning, that this is the program where we can make a change, because it is touching the lives of the people. We have 324 LLGs in this country and more than 6, 000 wards. We also have 89 districts and 22 provinces, but if we can change these 6, 000 wards, we can change this country,” said Mr Guina.
“Unless we change our villages in Papua New Guinea, we can never change this country. All the indicators of the government, the World Bank and the United Nations are measured according to how our people live in their communities. If we don’t have better water, health and education systems, our indicators will be low.”
The HDI is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) human development report 2016, PNGs HDI value saw a 43.4 per cent increase between 1990 and 2015 from 0.360 to 0.516.
During this period PNGs life expectancy at birth increased by 7.2 years to 62.8, mean years of schooling increased by 2.0 years to 4.3 and expected years of schooling increased by 5.2 years to 9.9.
PNG’s Gross National Income per capita also increased by about 76.3 per cent to US$2.712 billion between 1990 and 2015.
Yet despite the successes of the past 25 years, a majority of the 85 percent of PNGs total population who live in rural areas, still do not have access to adequate government services.