Simbu Province is a rugged mountainous area located in the central Highlands. It is the smallest province in Papua New Guinea in terms of land area, and the most densely populated. Access to basic services such as education and health care remains limited especially for those living in remote areas.
Simbu comprises six districts and covers 20 Local Level Government areas (LLGs). Land and water are the main natural resources used for livelihoods and these are generally accessible to the people of Simbu. The main constraint for farmers is a lack of access to markets. There is a significant lack of access to non-formal education of the type that Mercy Works provides, such as living skills and technical training. This is a prominent reason for the limited opportunities for young people, especially as employment prospects are very low.
Transitioning Into Simbu
The most significant development issues that were highlighted during the 2019 Needs Assessment report were: the lack of opportunities for young people, and associated problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, social and cultural breakdown including family breakdown, a handout mentality, political influence in communities linked with corruption and tribal fighting, and gender based violence including sorcery related violence and child abuse.
Related to these are various human rights concerns, rights for children, people living with a disability, women, prisoners, to life and security, to information, the right to education, to basic health, and the rights and responsibilities of communities.
Programs & Activities
In 2020, Mercy Works began working in the Simbu Province. We now have several different initiatives under the management of our Coordinator, Sr Maryanne Kolkia RSM, with a team of local staff, to empower communities and improve living standards, including:
- Community Based Financial Services
Access to start-up capital or savings and credit through our ‘Leave No one Behind’ Savings and Loan Society.
- Skills Training in Small Enterprise Development
Skills training to promote small enterprise development including financial management, micro-enterprise activities, small business management and marketing to build financial capacity for families, individuals, and those living with a disability.
- Technical Skills Training
Skills training such as animal husbandry, good farming practices, downstream processing, food technology/food preservation, baking, cooking, sewing, art & craft.
- Crop Production
Agricultural production income generating activities and establishing/linking rural/urban markets.
- Awareness Raising
Awareness raising activities on issues that matter to the communities through pre-recorded messages played on the radio or during community meetings reaching over 600,000 people in the highlands.
- Rehabilitation activities for prisoners in Barawagi Prison