Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A comedy of errors along the Kokoda Trail



In 2010, the Australian government allocated A$3 million (K6.46 million) on a 'Village Livelihood Project' along the Kokoda Trail, a failed project that has not seen a single project for local villagers and highlighted a dysfunctional management structure.

Latest case studies provided to The National  by veteran Kokoda trekking company operator, Charlie Lynn, and Network Kokoda, a not-for-profit company whose directors are former politician Dame Carol Kidu, former PNG Defence Force commander Brig Gen Ken Noga, secretary for Tourism, Arts and Culture Marianna Ellingson, and Lynn, highlight a comedy of errors.

Chickens, ducks and goats were supposedly eaten by the villagers.

Rice, cabbages, carrots and broccoli were given to villagers to grow without any technical advice on how to grow, tend and harvest the crops.

Fish for an aquaculture venture never turned up even though a pond was dug.

Projects initiated, without any reference to relevant PNG authorities or the trekking industry included the construction of massage parlours, where masseuses were reluctant to touch their potential clients for cultural reasons.

The massage hut had to be torn down after being built on a revered battle site while the special rooms built for drying the clothes of damp trekkers have yet to be found in the jungle.

At Nauro 1 and Nauro 2, the villagers were abandoned after the initial visits by Village Livelihoods project staff in 2010.

"Since then they have consumed the poultry, destroyed the goats because of the damage they were causing to the village, abandoned the fisheries project because nobody turned up with the fish as promised, and abandoned the rice project because they did not receive the technical support or resources to harvest their crop," according to Network Kokoda.

"Isurava villagers were provided with ducks and chickens.

"They did not receive any follow up advice or training.

"They initially consumed the eggs – then they consumed the ducks and chickens.

"They grew their first rice crop but were not provided with any technical advice on how to harvest the crop and prepare it for consumption.

"They grew beans and then consumed them.

"They did not have any seeds for a second crop so they abandoned the project.

"No animals were provided for Alola.

"They were provided with seeds for cabbage, carrots and broccoli.

"They sold some of their first crop to trekkers but did not have any seeds for a second crop.

"There was no follow up training or technical advice.

"There are no animals or garden plots at Abuari village.

"It is clear that there is nothing to report on in these villages either."

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