Papua New Guinea

Photo: Rodney Dekker/Oxfam 
Oxfam is helping to improve the lives of people in rural Papua New Guinea by working with our local partner organisations to help communities achieve the right to live free from poverty, with a sustainable income and secure food supply. Our partners have particular strengths in developing sustainable incomes through livestock and horticulture programmes.

The Challenge 

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a fragile state in the midst of a major natural resources boom and bust cycle. It is the largest, most populated country in the Pacific with 36% of its 7.5 million people living below the poverty line. 

Amongst the country’s towering mountains, deep valleys and tropical forests lie a multitude of communities all with their own languages, cultures and histories. Rural PNG is home to 80% of the population, yet these families have seen few benefits from the country’s thriving gas and oil industry due to corruption across political, legal and state institutions. 
These forces combined with challenging physical geography and poor infrastructure, such as roading, have stunted economic development in these areas. This makes it hard for locals to sustainably engage in anything more than subsistence farming as often transporting their crops to the larger, lucrative markets in the cities is unaffordable. Unsurprisingly, income inequality in PNG is the highest in the Asia Pacific region and growth-fuelled inflation is causing further imbalances, as once affordable basic items are now out of reach for rural farmers.
Oxfam New Zealand currently supports Oxfam in Papua New Guinea to implement two programs - HARVEST (a livelihoods project) and WASH (a water and sanitation project). Oxfam in Papua New Guinea is also running a third project around gender justice.

Improving livelihoods:

Oxfam’s HARVEST project works with local partners to improve the income and lives of over 2,000 families so they can send their kids to school, access decent healthcare and reliably put nutritious food on the table.
To do this, we’re helping farming families boost the quality and quantity of their vegetable yields by improving planting and pest-control techniques, so they can shift from subsistence to market-oriented farming. With market knowledge, these farmers can then access larger, more profitable markets.

We’re also partnering with two local honey businesses to train and support beekeepers. On-site experts provide and replenish low-cost supplies, create market connections, and give advice through the ‘Honey Hotline.’ So far, this has doubled the incomes of many families. 

As their incomes grow, we help women and men develop financial management skills to jointly plan, budget, and save for their financial goals. And to improve the security of their savings, we then link them with community-savings providers.
Your support will: 
  • Help farmers to grow, harvest, process and market their crops to attain a better income. 
  • Equip families with harvesting and preservation so they can grow nutritious foods to sustain their families. 
  • Support women and men to work together in their families to set and achieve financial goals.
  • Increase the skills and knowledge of local beekeepers and vegetable farmers to maximise their yields and earn a decent income.
  • Empower women by ensuring they have an equal say in their families’ financial decisions and can access financial services without threats to their safety.

Factsheet: livelihoods in PNG

Find out more (pdf)

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene:

Oxfam's WASH program works with local partners to improve access to basic sanitation and safe water, and promote hygiene practices in rural schools and health facilities in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

About half of Papua New Guinea's population live in the Highlands (approximately 3 million people) but their services often are inadequate and cannot cater for everyone, meaning people miss out.

By building water tanks, latrines, showers and by promoting good hygiene, we're helping over 32,000 people stay healthy.

Your support will:

  • Improve health through increased access to clean water, new toilets and showers, in rural schools and health facilities, along with education around the importance of good hygiene practices and behaviours.
  • Involve rural school children, teachers, and health facility staff to locally promote the importance of hygiene and sanitation education.
  • Strengthen the sanitation and hygiene capacities of participating schools, healthcare facilities, government institutions (such as health and education departments) and partner NGOs.
  • Build understanding and awareness among local government stakeholders about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in school, health centres and other public spaces.

Success stories:

From road blocks to bulb stocks
A bulb onion scheme in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands is changing lives and securing futures for nearly 400 members of a remote community.

Oxfam has worked in Papua New Guinea for nearly 20 years, operating in the Highlands, Bougainville, Port Moresby and Sepik regions. Oxfam focuses on three key areas of work, working directly through local partner organisations.