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

Mobile telephones and internet access

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Mobile telephones and internet access
In Goroka, visiting Bemobile representatives confided that they will not expand their coverage in Chimbu because of landowner problems faced along the highway. In general, they shall concentrate on resource extraction projects, where they know security and community ownership can guarantee some stability. These representatives were cavalier about the potential radiation risks of the towers, but they did explain that their strategy has been to place towers in schoolyards and churches, with some understanding that the antennas on the towers provide transmission at heights that clear the ground population.
Internet access is available in Kundiawa, and schools in Kerowagi, Mingende and Kundiawa have computers that will soon, if they do not already, enjoy internet access. But the majority of students in the province are not connected to the web, and Karamui High School would certainly benefit from an Internet Café.

Potential Positive Impacts

  1. Access to services, to market

  • Better communication with the airlines for scheduling charters to market.

  1. Banking

  • Mobile phones facilitate the most convenient and efficient form of banking today: Text and SMS transfers and bank balance updates.

  1. Cut out the middlemen

  • Reduced inefficiency: no waste of money flying to and from Goroka to market goods, make contact with suppliers, check prices, etc.

  • Money saved calling associates to purchase market cargo (childrens clothes, small goods, etc) rather than spending what people estimate to be K2000 three times a year to re-supply their market retail stalls. Women we spoke to knew from the prior existence of the BSP here that one could tele-text money between accounts on a mobile phone; they suggested they might send money to a relative to airlift cargo from Kundiawa, Hagen or Goroka for them.

  1. Safety, security

  • Women, especially mothers, agreed that phone a friend or relative would be important when a child falls ill. When symptoms can be shared and compared, people can treat many minor problems at home, with natural remedies, or be motivated to bring a child to the Health Centre. The indirect effect may be that sanguma accusations will be reduced. Everywhere in PNG where sanguma is prevalent, most if not all forms of death are attributed to someone’s malicious intervention, requiring revenge action of some sort. With a better system of communication and heightened awareness of western bio-medical causation, or even a clearer understanding of what constitutes a mere sickness versus a serious illness, many of these deaths may be avoided. In turn, revenge killings may also go down.

  • Community law and order problems can be reported, and perhaps even monitored, by citizens with mobile phones. This will cut response time and also diminish the sense of freedom from prosecution that young people feel.

  1. Improved representation

  • The District Women’s Rep is Dakan Sibirai, a strong woman with three teenage daughters. She was the only woman to stand with me at the first speech I made to the community and weigh in for the women’s side. We got the impression that she is a strong defender of women’s rights and would spearhead awareness programs were the tools available to her. We also note that Anna Joe, the young teacher, is am energetic and well-informed community member, who would be amongst the first to benefit from mobile telephony and eventually wireless internet.

  1. Transparency of elected officials

  • For the higher public officials who are tempted to conduct business away from the station, because of a lack of communication, the long term benefits for a community and unlimited. First, redirecting business from town to the village, will stem urban drift, heal domestic tensions, and bring more money directly back to the local economy. The incentives for conservation and efficiencies of scale, for rural development more generally will improve.

  1. Performance of public servants

  • Elected officials will be present in the community and have incentives to improve it. They may live the issues of remote life and strive to better it. The flow of services will run smoother and more efficiently, especially for these places where fuel exacts half of everyone’s income in some way or another. Elected officials will need to be more responsive to their communities, or bear the daily burden of not being so.

  • For public servants, the introduction of mobile phones can make the difference between service and giving up. Countless teachers, health workers and administrators posted to remote locations soon give up on their job because they feel out of place, homesick, or unwelcome at first. These obstacles may be overcome by constant communication with loved ones far away, and those couples who are separated by work would certainly benefit from regular telephone contact. Mobile telephony can therefore work as an anchor for public services and a balm on strained family units.

  1. Educational services

  • Teachers who can stay in touch with their spouses, can SMS or Text their banking requirements, and can organize bookings for their holidays, will be less likely to travel to the main towns to sort their clerical needs out. The majority of PNG’s ‘ghost teachers’ are those civil servants who have travelled to town to pick up their pay and continue to stay away for the conveniences town offers.

  1. Text message services and updates

  • Coffee, vanilla, cocoa and all other smallhold growers can regularly check market prices on their phones (Digicel even has a special service with the DPI, as noted in one of the text boxes here).

  • The Health Centre APO was especially interested in the concept of sending medical data to main hospitals by mobile phone. When I told them that HIV/AIDs patients in parts of the world can text their t-cell count or some other data to a specialist, they agreed that the privacy and accuracy of this would be especially valuable.

  1. Medical efficiency, services

  • Medical supplies can be ordered and traced more accurately with mobile communication.

  1. Streamlining customary affairs

  • Mobile phones are critical tools for spreading the news of a relative’s illness or death, and bringing a family together at such times. Even for occasions that are not emergencies, phones can reduce the time and cost of gathering participants and coordinating their responsibilities. In some case this may serve to sustain important customs that might otherwise wane for the logistical difficulties of maintaining them.

Possible negative impacts

  1. Harrassment

  • Gas paia’ random harassment of women such as experienced in East Sepik.

  1. Domestic disputes

  • Domestic tensions arising from misunderstandings of the telephone itself (including a female voice recording), and the tendency to entertain extra-marital telephone relationships.

  1. Changes in social norms

  • The undermining of strict parental controls over young women. Karamui is known for its tight control over daughters and their tendency to resist peer group socialising. Mobile phone will inevitably play a part in the gradual independence of both male and female youth from their parents, as they establish telephone relationships beyond their families. The confusion will be greater for young women, who will also experience new attentions by phone, some of them unwelcome. In this respect, it should be noted that the Government of Papua New Guinea is signatory to a number of important protections for children that have explicit concerns with pornographic media content (see Annex B Policy Context).

Mitigation strategies

  1. Increase awareness through radio programming

Karamui receives Christian Radio from Goroka, as well Karai, NBC, FM 100 and Nau FM. People depend on radio reports for everything from entertainment to awareness, and the Department of Communications and Information shall mitigate the negative impacts of mobile telephony by producing and airing a series of basic awareness spots on the use and abuse of mobile phones. This shall be targeted to women primarily, warning them of the dangers of random phone calls, pornographic texts and unwanted communications in general by phone—explaining that these are predictable occurrences that will eventually subside, and that they should not be overly alarmed nor should they personalize the insult implied. The emphasis in Chimbu should be on congratulating the community for its effective parenting of young women and children and explaining that the benefits of mobile phones will always outweigh the annoying side effects. Families must focus on the safety and economic security aspects of this development and try to minimize the disadvantages. Spots directed at men should imply that the use of mobile phones to harass and intimidate women is a wastefulness and antisocial sign of the user’s innocence and not his sophistication. These spots should be produced in Pawaian, Tok Pisin and English.

  1. Womens Crisis Centre

In the East Sepik Province, the Maprik Womens Crisis Centre has helped remote women suffer the drawbacks to several developments, from the vanilla boom to marijuana, alcohol and a growth of polygamy. No one project or technology can be blamed for the complex social problems of today’s Papua New Guinea, and domestic strife exists in both remote and urban settings.

  1. Provide information to communities on the environmental and health impacts of mobile towers

Everywhere new towers are to be placed, radio programming must be produced and aired in anticipation of the introduction of mobile telephony. In remote locations villagers are not likely to know the physics of telephony, much less the limits of what can be attracted by a radio antennae. Tower placement should be away from community centres, avoiding sacred sites, gardens, playgrounds or other community interest locations. Bemobile places towers in school and church yards to guarantee some collective ownership of the asset.

  1. Placement of towers should occur only with the support of communities

Of importance is the ‘free and informed consultation process for tower host communities and the agreements they sign. Agreements on land use should be prefaced by clear and open discussions an dactive engagement with host communities. In addition they should be documented either in the local language or in Tok Pisin.2 Agreements with communities regarding land use should be achieved and documented in a manner and form that is accessible to all parties

In addition, everywhere new towers are to be placed, radio programming must be produced and aired in anticipation of the introduction of mobile telephony. In remote locations villagers are not likely to know the physics of telephony, much less the limits of what can be attracted by a radio antennae.
Additionally, in Chimbu Province, the selection of tower sites should avoid locations where multiple and therefore contested ownership will be a problem.


Key stakeholders

In land negotiations, key stakeholders include all clan or subclan leaders within the recognized landowner community, as well as the elected clan Counsellors. In this respect, both the younger and older leaders in a community can be counted. Wherever possible, womens groups should also be consulted (although in-married and generally not landowners per se, they are indeed impacted).

Norms around land use and previous arrangements

In both East Sepik and Chimbu provinces the tenure systems are generally patrilineal and virilocal, which means land is inherited through the male line and yet daughters (and their families) can be given rights to own or use land. In some areas of the highlands the system emphasizes primogeniture, meaning the eldest son inherits all or most and is responsible for the redistribution of land. Because none of these systems are etched in stone and imply provisions for emergencies (when a family line expires, or when migrants need to settle), land negotiations should be guided by the practices of usufruct and tenure already in use.

Groups vulnerable in land use arrangements

In general, the problems of land negotiations for tower installations will tend to disadvantage settlers or temporary residents on the land. Usufruct or land-use principles are flexible and must remain so, which means these negotiations must be careful not to establish precedents simply by virtue of being written into a contract. Therefore the terminology of said contracts should clearly indicate that whatever arrangements that include or privilege groups not otherwise recognized as traditional landowners must be for the term of the tower only and not in perpetuity or for any other land rental arrangements.

Conflicts and conflict resolution/grievance redress mechanisms

Papua New Guinea’s Village Court system has become the most effective and popular mechanism for dispute settlement across PNG. While it is not always impartial and not everywhere equally effective, it is nonetheless the first and last redress for everything from petty to grand violations of the social contract. If the Village Court is not always enough, it is most responsive to the given community. The anthropologist Michael Goddard, who has conducted extensive work on the Village Court system in PNG (Goddard 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005b), warns that these courts are effective only in terms of the communities they serve (and by which they are defined). In the context of discussing women in the Village Courts, Goddard reminds us (2005b:13):

[A]n understanding of social context is vital to an appreciation of the workings and decisions of any village court, and possibly more useful in understanding their treatment of disputes than conventional notions of 'custom' or 'customary law' (cf Goddard 1996, Zorn 1991). Of course, village courts are no less capable than any other kind of court, formal or informal, 'higher' or 'lower' of making bad or unjust decisions(see, eg, Goddard 2002:10-11). Further, as the predominantly kin-ordered sociality of Melanesians continues to compel them, as Lawrence famously said, to be more concerned with keeping the sky up (Lawrence 1970:46) than adhering to the Western legal maxim fiat justitia, ruat coelum, the fate of individuals in a village court (both male and female) is sometimes determined more by the need for harmony and good order in the community at large than by principles of either Western or 'customary' law (see Goddard 1996, 2002, 2003). 3

It would be unwise to establish a jural mechanism merely for the purpose of this project, and so the use of Village Court officers and recognized community leaders of all kinds must be stressed, especially in the case of conflicts between landowners and land-users or migrants. In the case of violence, the local police are the single and most important redress. Nevertheless, awareness campaigns and clear discussions over any MOUs or contracts are mandatory and vital to preventing conflict in all provinces.

Accessibility to internet cafes

There are certain factors that may make it difficult for some people, women in particular, to access internet cafes. Internet café operators must refrain from creating multiple-use cafes that would exclude women by virtue of the activities permitted: alcohol consumption, video replay, gaming and other activities that target male clientele exclusively.

Priority shall be given to bidders with business plans that are especially family-friendly, whether, for example, they are located near or within school and/or church grounds, or provide space and activities for children while their mothers access the internet. Bidders should consider the growth of an internet clientele which may be predominantly male today but will unavoidably include women and youth in the near future. Those cafes that discourage entry by women and youth will only be undermining their profit base.

Vulnerability to exclusion from benefits

Equal access to bidding materials for all interested bidders will be improved in each district by distribution of information through church and school networks, as well as Chambers of Commerce and other commercial venues. It is conceivable that women’s groups, church organizations and school associations will be interested in establishing internet cafes and otherwise find it difficult to compete with business houses for this opportunity. District level awareness campaigns and public media must emphasize the project’s inclusiveness at all times.


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Chimbu Province services for women
Meri I Kirap Sapotim (MIKS) provides human rights advocacy, activism, and education and has grassroots activists at work in both Simbu and Goroka. Many MIKS members have been trained in crisis and sexual health counselling and are active in the regional networks to eliminate violence against women and girls. MIKS leaders and resources people are also competent trainers in human rights and particularly women and children’s rights. Their Chair, Sarah Garap, is a highly educated and visible advocate for women’s rights, and has recently been trained in Participatory Rural Assessment methodologies. She is amongst the very few indigenous women’s scholars in PNG, publishing on the rights and conditions of Highlands women. Her primary focus has and continues to be good governance, and supporting women in politics and the public domain.

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