R e2429 V2 evised Social Assessment for the png rural Communications Project Nancy Sullivan 10 10 Purpose of the Social Assessment The objectives of the Social Assessment are to

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evised Social Assessment for the PNG Rural Communications Project

Nancy Sullivan 10.3.10

Purpose of the Social Assessment
The objectives of the Social Assessment are to:
Increase opportunities for social development through identifying the project beneficiaries and their needs, ideas, and expectations; minimize adverse social impacts which might be caused by the project; mitigate unavoidable social costs of the project; and propose guidelines for adopting a socially sustainable project design.
Conceptual Approach and Methodology
The Social Assessment framework employed draws together widely used basic concepts of social assessment and concepts from the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach which places people at the centre of development.
The approach is geared to:

  • Provide an understanding of the socio-economic, cultural and political contexts in which project will take place;

  • Identify the key stakeholders and beneficiaries of the project;

  • Ensure the potential beneficiaries understand the basics of the project;

  • Provide a mechanisms for stakeholders and beneficiaries to lodge their concerns or objectives regarding the project;

  • Identify and mitigate any possible adverse social impacts of the project.

The Social Assessment methodology combines semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and potential beneficiaries, with participant observation of everyday activities in the two provinces identified for the demonstration projects: East Sepik and Chimbu. These techniques are framed by a literature review of key ethnographic material on each of the two provinces. After flying to Wewak, in the East Sepik, the social and environmental assessment team drove along the Maprik Highway to the West Sepik border; then flew to Karamui Station in Chimbu Province and walked the station and its surrounds. In both provinces, randomly selected local people—potential beneficiaries—were interviewed in groups and individually with the express purpose of eliciting impromptu responses to the issues raised surrounding mobile telephony, both good and bad.



There is debate amongst mobile phone researchers as to the place of the phones in economic life and their economic impact in developing nations, particularly in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people. Some researchers suggest that mobile phones are an economic boon for the poor (for example, World Bank, 2007, pp. 2-3) while some research “suggests mobiles are doing more economic harm than good, and sometimes making poor people poorer” (Heeks 2008). The research conducted for this project tends to underscore the positive aspects of mobile phones for both the East Sepik and Chimbu populations. This is not to say there are no dangers, and these shall be discussed, but the communities recently introduced to mobile phones in the East Sepik Province enjoy significant benefits that range from individual safety and security to women on their own, and students away from home, to economic sustainability for small trade store and canteen owners who can ring ahead for supplies in town.
Those communities with even a small base of dependable cash income can integrate mobile phone usage into their lives without causing economic strife, whereas those communities with only inconsistent cash sources are more likely to feel encumbered by the need to buy phone cards. Thus, along the highway in Sepik people do complain about the costs of buying phone cards, and of having the phone charged at a power source (where there is no town power supply). But they are more critical, and more vociferous about the tendency to waste money on prank calls eliciting money or asking the recipient to call back (a Digicel service). Women were also more concerned about the practice of male callers ‘gas paia’ calling around at random than they were about money wasted on cards. Women are everywhere in PNG the first to benefit and yet also the first to pay the price, so to speak, for innovations. Men across the board are invite change and technological advances, but women may be more hesitant for social reasons. There are plenty of stories about sugar daddies giving young girls phones, and men facilitating adultery with mobile phones. But women are the ones who will benefit from emergency services now accessed by phone, from managing accounts by SMS texting to the bank, and by monitoring the well-being of family members away from home.
It is possible to extrapolate from the drawbacks from the Sepik region to the Karamui Plateau of Chimbu. Yet weighted against the potential benefits these drawbacks are insignificant and manageable by certain mitigation strategies. The major adverse impacts are largely a function of the novelty of telephony, and can be expected to diminish as the technology becomes more familiar, more commonplace in remote households. For the Chimbu people, where women are more constrained, and are strictly raised by their mothers, some social problems will undoubtedly occur. But here the community is far more remote from the mainstream of the province, depending entirely on mission air transport to sustain their health and education services, and will benefit disproportionately by a new means of communication. The economic potential for the Karamui with new communication technology is almost unlimited, combined as it will be with the ability for public servants, educated elite and even investors to resist migrating from Karamui to more business-friendly centres like Goroka and Kundiawa.
Communications scholar Amanda Watson reports on a mobile phone use study conducted recently on Kar Kar Island in Madang (Watson 2010:12-3):

How do rural people describe their feelings about the introduction of mobile telephony? Ward Member Giragir Mahana expressed a number of negative views about mobile phones, and particularly the damage he feels they are doing to the community in his area. Behaviours that he believes have increased as a result of the introduction of mobile phones include hold-ups, and extra-marital affairs. Nonetheless, he admits there are some benefits emerging, particularly the use of this technology by leaders and for business purposes. He is also pleased to be able to contact his children in the urban centres of Port Moresby and Lae.

And how do other members of the community express their feelings about mobile phones? On the plus side, there were a very high number of comments made about it being easier to contact friends and family who live a long way away from Orora. A high number of people talked about using the mobile phone to ask for assistance from others (such as requesting money or store-bought goods). Quite a high number of comments were made about the use of mobiles in emergencies, and about it being easier to ring someone compared with walking a substantial distance to see them. Several people pointed out that using a mobile phone saves money that would have otherwise been spent on boat tickets or cars. A few people pointed out that if they’re travelling on the ship, they can ring ahead and ask people to meet them, which aids with both security and the transportation of cargo.
Elsewhere she cites Beschorner, and discusses the economic benefits and costs (Ibid:14):
There is debate amongst mobile phone researchers as to the place of the phones in economic life and their economic impact in developing nations, particularly in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people. Some researchers suggest that mobile phones are an economic boon for the poor (for example, Beschorner, 2007, pp. 2-3) while some research “suggests mobiles are doing more economic harm than good, and sometimes making poor people poorer” (Heeks, 2008, np).
In Orora, the main income generation avenues are selling natural produce at the weekly market in the neighbouring village, and growing cash crops, mainly coconut and cocoa. The local economy is also supported by remittances from relatives who live and work in urban areas.
In the survey, mobile phone owners were asked how they procured the finances for the purchase of their mobile phone, and how they fund the ongoing expenses of purchasing phone credit and recharging phone batteries. People gave a range of responses, primarily focused on income generation activities such as selling produce at market, and growing coconuts and cocoa. However, when asked directly if other people support them and give them money for purchasing phone credit, most of the respondents indicated that they do receive this kind of assistance, mainly from relatives and family members.
As for the matter of charging mobile phone batteries, the villagers listed only two options that they have for completing this task. One involves using the one diesel generator that is present in the village (which is only possible if the owners have fuel, which has to be purchased from the coastal stores), and the other involves walking down to the stores on the coast to have the handset charged there, at a cost.
It is important to remember that many people expressed concerns about the expense of using mobile phones, as was shown earlier. Aside from the costs involved, it is of interest to establish whether or not mobile phones in Orora are utilised in income generation. Only one survey respondent indicated that they used the phone for business purposes. This was a much lower number than was expected by the researcher. However, additionally, villager Moks Naing talked about the usefulness of the mobile phone in conducting business, explaining that it allows contact with people travelling to sell cocoa for him (Interview with Shong 'Moks' Naing, 2009).
The East Sepik Province occupies 43 700 km2 in the northwest of PNG. The northern part of the province is dominated by the Wewak coastal plains and islands, the Torricelli Range and the Prince Alexander Range. South of these mountains is a large area of hill country that stretches from Dreikikir in the west, to Angoram in the east. The middle of the province covers the plains, floodplains, swamps and lakes of the Sepik River and its tributaries. The Sepik Valley is around 80 km wide and 320 km long. The level of the Sepik River rises and falls by up to five meters every wet season. South of the Sepik Valley are the rugged mountains of the Central Range, which extend into Enga Province. The east of the province consists of the mouth of the Sepik River and large areas of coastal swamp around the Murik Lakes. Altitude varies from sea level to over 3000 m on the Central Range. The highest place where agriculture is practised is near Dreikikir, at 800 metres. Average annual rainfall varies from 1800 mm near Maprik, to over 4000 mm near April River. There is a moderate to long dry season in the east of the province with the driest area being in the lower Sepik Valley around Angoram. The six districts in East Sepik are Ambunti-Dreikikir, Angoram, Maprik, Wewak, Wosera-Gaui, and Yangoru-Saussia.
East Sepik had 343 181 people (6.6 percent) of total population of PNG in 2000. The province has experienced a population growth rate of 2 percent from 1980 to 2000 and this has increased to 3 percent for the period 1990 to 2000. The estimated rural population of East Sepik in the year 2000 was 270 000, which is seven per cent of the national rural population. The provincial rural population growth rate is 1.6 per cent per annum. Large East Sepik migrant communities are found at Rabaul, Madang, Lae and in the West New Britain oil palm settlements. The highest out-migration is from the Sepik Valley around Ambunti. The highest population densities are south of Maprik, in the Amogu Valley, with 175 persons/km2. The Maprik area has densities that average 80 persons/km2, while the Yangoru area and the islands off the Wewak Coast have 60 persons/km2. The area around Dreikikir and remote villages in the east of the province have densities of 30 persons/km2, while the Wewak Coast and Sepik Valley have 15 persons/km2. The northern fall of the Central Range has very low densities of one person/km2.
The Sepik Highway runs from Wewak to Maprik and is a well designed road, but is poorly maintained. It runs through the areas which have the highest population densities in the province. Traffic from inland Sandaun Province also traverses this road en route to Wewak. Roads from Pagwi and Angoram connect the Sepik River to the highway. There is a good road along the coast from Wewak to Aitape in Sandaun Province, but many river crossings are not bridged and flash floods are common. Outboard motor boat and canoe travel are common along the Sepik River and between the coast and islands. People in the hills, between Dreikikir and Yangoru, and on the coast and islands around Wewak, live within four hours’ travel of Maprik or Wewak. Most other people in the province require 4–8 hours’ travel to reach the nearest service centre, except for those in the northern fall of the Central Range and in remote parts of the Sepik Valley, who must travel for more than one day. (Hanson et al 2001: 205 ad passim)
The areas around Dreikikir and remote villages in the east of the province have densities of 30 persons per km2, while the Wewak Coast and Sepik Valley have 15 people per km2. The northern fall of the central Range has very low population densities of one person per km2.
Sepik River cultures

Seven hundred miles in length and with a catchment area covering nearly 30,000 square miles, the Sepik River occupies a special place in Papua New Guinea. It is the largest unpolluted freshwater system in all of New Guinea and it holds some of its rarest plant and animal species, including two species of crocodile — one saltwater and one fresh — upon which the peoples of the river’s middle reaches are economically reliant. The region is one of the least economically developed in the country, and its 430,000 inhabitants depend on the forests and river for their livelihoods. The area is also one of the world’s most culturally and linguistically diverse, home to over 300 languages in an area a bit smaller than the state of Texas.

Among some peoples, including the Bahenimo of the Hunstein Range in the Upper Sepik region, certain parts of the land carry taboos because they are viewed as dwelling places of spirits, or masalai. Although lifestyles among the people of the Sepik are changing slightly as a result of outside influences, most traditional believes continue to be valued.

The Sepik River is not just one river, it is a complex of rivers running off the central highlands cordillera below, and the Alexander and Torricelli Mountains above, linking the main river to the surrounding floodplains and the hills beyond. The Upper Sepik is home to some of Papua New Guinea's rarest plants and more than half of the region's species are endemic – that is, they are not found anywhere else on earth.

The dominant Middle Sepik tribe is called Iatmul, and it arrived on the river from the Sawos region just north only within the last 400 years. But conquest of the river was a long process, and tumbuna stories tell of massacres, migrations and language shift up until the first decade of the twentieth century. After that, German and then Australian pacification patrols impelled the more settled lifestyles we see today. Still, as the Romans of the Roman Empire on the Sepik, the Iatmul people always had a more elaborated, more ritually complex culture than the surrounding peoples. Iatmul people are said to have come from a primordial crocodile, whose upper and lower laws split to become the people of the sun or earth moiety totem. But even this origin story varies from village to village.
Initiation is a major theme across the region. Boys must become full members of their father’s clan by enduring a several month long seclusion in the spirit house, during which their fathers and mother’s brothers instruct them in whispered tones about clan genealogies, song cycles, and other specialized information, although most of it is not strictly secret due to the lack of privacy. Knowledge is power, though, and only when endowed with this information are these boys considered men. But they also must endure taunting, frightening and painful rituals that will harden them and transform them from boys to men. These rituals also instil in the boy a sense of hierarchy within the clan, and his indebtedness to mother’s line. The clan that has given a wife to your father’s line always enjoys a certain superiority, and during initiation it is the mother’s brother who cradles and then cuts the boy’s back. Ritual scarifiers cut a patterned series of cuts down the boy’s back and buttocks, and in this way ‘release’ the mother’s blood left in the child since birth. It literally spills back to her brothers as they make a child for their brother-in-law’s line.
Traditional communication

The people in this ecologically diverse region speak more than 250 languages, which gives you some idea of their cultural variety. Just as these zones are ecologically interdependent, these peoples are also knitted together in systems of trade and communication.

Here knowledge is power, and material wealth is secondary. Ritual, genealogical, historical and even technical knowledge define one group from another, and maintain the distinctions that enable trade. And trade is everywhere, each place known for its own specialties. Only Aibom women, for example, have the knowledge to make the special Chambri Lakes pottery which they trade all over the Middle Sepik. Only members of certain clans carve particular masks or figures, even if these too may be traded to other peoples.
Virtually every village depends on each other for fish, sago, ritual items or wives. Hence, the emergence and preservation of so many tiny little languages (some spoken by as few as fifty people): knowing multiple languages gives someone an edge in trade, while it also preserves esoterica as a trade material in itself.
Knowledge as power
Sepik culture is about memory, about secrets and un-shared knowledge, and languages that have separate dialects for men and women, and ceremonies that include singsings in ancient or borrowed tongues. Whereas highlands cultures are about wealth, and stage-managing huge exchanges, Sepik cultures are about hoarding and dispensing knowledge. These are the scholars of PNG.
Oratory is also central to village life across the Middle Sepik. Initiated men spend their days in the spirit houses casually and sometimes aggressively debating clan histories, genealogies and other information. The better storyteller can actually win a piece of history from another subclan, and in so doing assume entitlements to sago gardens, fishing grounds, carving patterns and other such valuables. But it’s a tricky game: many clan names and titles have secret second names, and these are coveted bits of information; yet to utter them is to defuse their power. The object for all men is to acquire as much of this information as possible, and to hoard its significance. Yet at a certain time in life a man must also start giving away this knowledge to sons or nephews, in a race against time, lest he die suddenly and take it all with him. At special congratulatory rituals called Naven (which are still performed for a young man’s firsts—first canoe, first bachelor house, initiation, marriage), the uncles recite long lists of genealogies for hours on end, rather like pages and pages of ‘he begat’ from the First Testament.
The Haus Tambaran or spirit houses of the Sepik are the focus of male life in the village. Still today, this is where initiated men often spend their days, where clan sacralae are stored, and where young boys are secluded and instructed by clan elders during their initiation. There is nothing unplanned about the haus tambaran. Most are divided in two by major clans, then subdivided by subclans which have their own seating platforms, carved posts and entrances at each quarter of the ground floor. The older initiated men sit toward the centre posts, the younger men toward either end. Thus, when you enter a haus tambaran you can go right to the centre to speak to the most important men. In some areas, these haus tambaran are simple constructions, much like a haus win. But for the Iatmul, Keram and Blackwater peoples, much like the inland Maprik and Kwoma, these ceremonial houses are really awe-inspiring structures—as much as 50 metres long, with soaring gables, saddleback rooflines, raised as high as 5 metres on stilts.
Results from Field Visits
Wewak to Drekikir by road: ‘Gas Paia’ ples
The Maprik-Yanguru Highway runs from Wewak to Drekikir across the northern half of the East Sepik Province. Digicel and BeMobile are well represented along the highway, although reception has a few spotty pockets, where people climb trees or walk into gardens to place a call. Digicel has placed 13 towers from Kreer Heights to the West Sepik border, virtually all close to the roadside. Their plan to roll out more still in 2010, largely down the feeder roads toward the Sepik River, at Angoram and at Pagwi. Wewak has one Digicel representative, who works from his vehicle, and he confirmed that their policy is to follow the roads as much as possible.
BeMobile, on the other hand, has far fewer towers along the Maprik highway, and is planning to place at least two south of the Sepik River. Ground has been cleared for towers in Amboin on the Karawari River (near Kundiman) and in Timbunke on the Sepik River. These sites will provide coverage to much of the Middle Sepik tributary system from the Konmei to the Korosmeri Rivers. This central area is a highly populated and economically vital area, an excellent target for BeMobile service.
To the east and the west, however, the other tributaries south of the Sepik River that are not covered and may not be covered by commercial operators in the near future. To the East, the Keram to Yuat Rivers are highly populated and have been planting plenty of cocoa recently. To the far west, both the Frieda and the May Rivers have significant populations (increasing from the draw of the Frieda mine, yet to come on line), and between the two rivers Auna is a mission station with a High School.
Along the Yanguru-Maprik Highway the communities enjoy some of the most extensive Digicel coverage in rural PNG, and yet there are still are people cannot receive a signal and kids are found climbing coconuts to make a call. There are also two major integrated development projects being planned for the Maprik and Drekikir region, bringing logging and oil palm into these areas. The chances are good that Digicel will enhance its coverage, and that Bemobile, when it rolls out to East Sepik, will follow the current footprint and fill these pockets of weak transmission.
Discussions with Digicel, BeMobile
Digicel workers told us that the 2010 roll out for them will include the road to Angoram, to cover Timbunke and the eastern Sepik plains, and the road to Pagwi, farther west, which will cover the Wosera and Ilahita villages down to Ambunti on the river. With this, the only areas left to be served north of the Sepik River will be northernmost areas of Bumbita/Muhian Rural, the Albiges/Mablep Rural and the Boikin/Dagua Rural Districts to serve.
Bob Bates, owner of the Karawari Lodge, in Amboin, off the Karawari River south of the Sepik River (Karawari Rural District) confirms that BeMobile have started to construct towers at the small mountain behind the lodge in Amboim, as well as at Timbunke on the main Sepik River. This will provide transmission to the entire Karawari-Blackwater region.
The tributaries to the west and the east are remain uncovered, and are unlikely in the future to receive commercial coverage. On the Keram River to the East and between the Frieda and May Rivers to the west live some of the most remote peoples in the country. Not only are there no roads to their communities, but fuel costs make it prohibitive for motor canoe travel most of the time. Education and health services have been sadly lacking, or at best intermittent, for the past generation, and were it not for mission stations, and mission air strips, most of them would enjoy no services whatsoever.

Cocoa has been planted in these areas for some time now, and fermentaries are now being constructed, But the petrol ‘zoom’ for motor canoes costs as much as K25/gallon on these tributaries, and all of it must come in from Wewak through Angoram Station, if not by mission planes. Villagers they tend to build giant rafts that can float downriver to Angoram where they sell sago and smoked fish at the market, sell their cocoa, and visit the major hospital in Timbunke, or jump on a PMV to Wewak. But the rising cost of fuel has made people south of the river increasingly isolated, and mobile phones could jump-start the economy of people who are already planting and fermenting cocoa.
In addition, and not insignificantly, the Keram and Frieda Rivers both have alluvial gold. People have been panning for it for years, and bringing it to Angoram and Timbunke where they sell it at risk for reduced prices. The people of the Upper Frieda River still wear arse-tanget and are on the verge of hosting a major gold mine, scheduled to come online in 2010. They have explicitly asked Digicel to bring in towers, but the company is not interested at this time. The magnet that is the mine will bring money to migrants and landowners alike in the area, and make mobile phones crucial to their emergent cash economy.
Potential Demonstration sites
Angoram District
Angoram District covers the Marienberg Hills, the Murik Lakes, the plains and swamps of the lower Sepik Valley, the Sepik Coast and the mountainous northern fall of the Central Range. The estimated rural population in the year 2000 is approximately 51 000. The highest population density is in the Gavien Resettlement Scheme, north of Angoram, with 53 persons/km2. The plains of the Keram River, in the east of the district, have 25 persons/km2. The people in the Sepik Valley and on the Sepik Coast require 4–8 hours’ travel by PMV to reach Wewak.
The northern fall of the Central Range is very remote and people require more than one day’s travel to reach the nearest service centre. There is a good road from Wewak to Angoram, which is partly sealed. Outboard motor boats and canoes are used on the Sepik and Keram rivers. People along the Sepik and Keram rivers earn moderate incomes from the sale of betel nut, fish and cocoa. Sago is the most important food in the district and is supplemented by low intensity mixed staple cultivation of banana, taro and Chinese taro. In the 1982–83 National Nutrition Survey, malnutrition in children under five years was assessed as poor; 41 per cent of children were stunted and seven per cent were seriously under weight.
The Sepik Valley, Sepik Coast and plains of the Keram River have low land potential constrained by poor soils and long-term inundation. The northern fall of the Central Range has very low to low potential caused by steep slopes, poor soils, high rainfall and frequent cloud cover. There is potential for agricultural development in the Marienberg Hills given the high potential land and reasonable access to markets. Cocoa, fresh food and betel nut are established smallholder cash-earning activities. Robusta coffee is also well established, but prices are low compared to other cash crops.
The most disadvantaged people in the district are those on the plains of the speaking Keram River who are constrained by very low cash incomes and low potential environments. Downriver the Kambot area people speak Kambot language, and upriver they speak Kominimung. The people upriver are especially disadvantaged by distance to the main river, and have few opportunities to improve their livelihoods. (Hanson et al 2001: Ibid)
Kektem LLG, Keram Rural District
At Bunem station on the Keram River there is an airstrip, a Community School and a Health Centre where people from all over the upper Keram come for assistance. The community pans for alluvial gold, and plants cocoa, so there is enough kina to support the purchase of flex cards. A possible tower site exists within a twenty minute walk from the station, atop a small hillock at a site called Wusetak, where the land is clear and unused. The site allows views of the the entire Keram floodplain. This is Kekten Ward (also written as Kevim on some maps). Nearby Angisi is on the 5 x 5 list of possible locations, and has 709 people by the 2002 ESP census. (Angisi is -4.67963, 144.3035 and 74.6 km from BTS.) Angisi today, by projecting a .025% annual growth rate, should have as many as 850 people, and Bunem’s population may be similar. The number of people who travel to and from Bunem must swell to more when the school is in session and the airfield is in use.
Table 14 (a). Kekten Ward (2002 ESP Census statistics)

Census Unit










Ambunti –Dreikikir District
Ambunti-Dreikikir District is in the west of the province. It extends from the foothills of the Torricelli Range, around Dreikikir, to Ambunti on the Sepik River. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1900 mm in the inland hills, to over 4000 mm in the upper Sepik Valley. Altitude varies from 30 m in the Sepik Valley, to over 1000 m on the Torricelli Range. The estimated rural population in the year 2000 is 48 000. The Ambunti area and the southern tributaries of the Sepik River have densities of 14 persons/km2.
There is no road connection between the district headquarters at Ambunti and the most populous parts of the district around Dreikikir. It is faster and easier for people in the foothills to reach the provincial capital at Wewak than to travel to Ambunti. People along the Sepik River require 4–8 hours’ travel to reach Wewak. Those living along the southern Sepik tributaries are very remote and require more than one day’s travel to reach the nearest service centre.
Agriculture in the Torricelli foothills is characterised by low intensity yam cultivation, with taro and banana as other important staple crops. Coconut and sago are also important foods. There are two consecutive plantings before fallow periods of 15–25 years, but a third planting of sweet potato is becoming common. Sago is the most important food in the Torricelli Range, on the lower hills and in the Sepik Valley. It is supplemented by low intensity mixed staple cultivation of banana, taro and sweet potato. In the 1982–83 National Nutrition Survey, malnutrition in children under five years was assessed as serious; 73 per cent of children were stunted and eight per cent were seriously under weight.
There is potential for agricultural development in the Torricelli foothills given the high to very high land potential and reasonable access to markets. Cocoa, fresh food and betel nut are established smallholder cash-earning activities. Robusta coffee has also been produced for a long time, but prices are low compared to other cash crops.
The most disadvantaged people in the district are the small populations in the fringe areas of the Sepik Valley, upstream of Ambunti, in places such as Maposi, Ama , Hotmin, Iteri and Frieda River. These people have poor access to services, earn very low incomes and live in low potential environments. (Hanson et al 2001: Ibid)
In the western corner of the province there is a new Xstrata gold and copper mine coming on line, at Frieda River, and its remote villages have asked District and provincial authorities for mobile phone services. The best site for a tower is just west of the Frieda between the Frieda and the May Rivers, where Aumi village hosts a mission-run hospital that invites US medical volunteers to work periodically, and thus serves as a resource for the greater May and Frieda communities.
Table 14 (b). Aumi Ward includes (2002 ESP Census statistics)

Census Unit





Aumi 2










Ibu 1










Ibu 2










The table above represents the permanent citizens of the Ward in 2002, well before the in-migration that has occurred from the imminent Frieda mine to the east. Oum 1 and Oum 2 are the closest points on the list of 5 x 5 metre sites for potential towers, but these sites are on the Sepik River to the north of Aumi. (Oum 1 has 644 people in the 5 k sq radius, at -4.27488, 142.1436, and it 65.9 km to nearest BTS; Oum 2 has 517 people in a 5 km radius, at -4.22966, 142.1436 and is 65.3 km from nearest BTS).

This extremely remote area is about to be radically changed by the opening of the Frieda mine, and all that such a project entails. Villagers who have barely seen Europeans in their lifespan have already begun migrating toward the Upper Frieda mine base camp. The people on the Frieda River speak Iwam language, and are neighbours to the Hiyewe, a community of people known to anthropologists for their extreme egalitarianism (which is to say the Frieda River people share this ethic).
Xstrata gold and copper

Located near the headwaters of the Sepik on the border between East Sepik and Sanduan (West Sepik) provinces, the Frieda River mine aims is operated by a subsidiary of Australia-based Xstrata Copper, which also holds majority interest. The project is currently in the feasibility-study stage but is expected to begin construction in 2012, with production starting up in 2016. The exploration programme at the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai copper gold porphyry deposit within the Frieda project area has approximately 220 people on site with five rigs drilling approximately 2,400 metres per month. This activity is part of an extensive 36,000 metre drilling programme, currently focussed on geotechnical specific work, process plant site locations, quarries and potential dam sites.

Xstrata has pledged to conduct operations at the Frieda River mine in an environmentally and socially responsible way, but critics have expressed concern that environmental plans have not been made public and villagers of the Upper and Lower Sepik have not been adequately involved in the planning process. Of primary concern is that mine tailings might make their way into the river system. Discharge of millions of tons of waste from the Ok Tedi mine in neighboring Western Province resulted in a bona fide environmental disaster affecting some 600 square miles of land and at least 30,000 residents of the Fly River system; the Frieda River mine is expected to be an even larger operation than Ok Tedi.

Writing in PNG newspaper The National in 2009, Andrew Moutu said, “I want to challenge and appeal to all the educated people of Sepik River societies throughout PNG to mobilize and address the question of a Frieda River mine before we dig and bury ourselves in the coffins of mineral intoxicants. As feasibilities are being carried out, we have the right to demand a sound environmental plan that incorporates all and every concern about our crocodiles and humans, fish and sago, water and contaminants, eels and mayflies, birds and mosquitoes, men’s houses and churches…”

Tunapi Hunstein Rural LLG, Ambunti-Drekikir District
Table 15. Current East Sepik tower sites:

BeMobile Site Unique Name


Latitude Decimal

Longitude Decimal

Angoram Exchange

East Sepik



Kreer Heights

East Sepik



Kundiawa Exchange




Maprik Exchange

East Sepik



Mt Townsend

East Sepik



Mt Turu

East Sepik



Yangoru Exchange

East Sepik



Wewak Exchange

East Sepik



Digicel Area





03 20 16.40 S

142 54 58.90 E



03 16 29.40 S

142 41 17.50 E


Aitape High School

03 10 42.24 S

142 23 57.84 E


Aitape Hill

03 07 55.20 S

142 21 02.16 E


Moem Barracks

03 33 31.40 S

143 41 53.10 E



03 35 13.00 S

143 39 51.00 E


Kreer Hill

03 35 10.80 S

143 38 40.40 E



03 33 12.00 S

143 34 50.00 E


Brandi Hill

03 36 25.30 S

143 42 22.20 E



03 37 19.90 S

143 37 20.30 E



03 38 27.70 S

143 03 16.40 E



03 43 30.50 S

143 36 07.00 E



03 45 41.00 S

143 27 45.00 E



03 41 41.00 S

143 17 14.64 E



03 38 47.00 S

143 38 17.00 E


Huranga Hill

03 41 35.00 S

143 30 54.00 E



03 41 25.90 S

143 10 50.60 E



03 26 38.10 S

143 28 39.60 E


Ulau Mission

03 18 19.08 S

142 47 33.72 E



03 22 02.64 S

143 10 40.08 E



03 24 35.70 S

143 25 01.30 E

Existing Internet cafes
Currently East Sepik has a handful of public internet sites: In Wewak, there is access at the Boutique hotel; and in town, one near CDS, at Baiter Ltd. HELP Resources’s public internet café is now closed, as is the one they established a few years ago in Ambunti.
There is a set of computers in one school at Marienberg, in Angoram District, where Divine Word University and the Catholic Church donated the resources.
Excellent additional internet café sites are Brugan Village and Maprik Station along the Maprik Highway, where secondary schools and business entities could benefit directly.

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