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Originally produced for UNICEF

Managing expectations

Rising Demands

When the villages come forward with increasing demands, the pressure on district authorities to respond can become intense. For example, the Ward Member for Atemble has submitted to district, provincial and national health authorities a demand that all the children in the Ward receive immunizations. The process helped villagers to quickly define their priorities and to shape these into a plan. The District Administrators for both Middle Ramu and Esa’ala pointed out that the villages that had been through the “Colour My House” process were much further ahead in developing their Ward plans. Some aspects of the plan require action by the villagers themselves but others rely on responses by government. Strengthening the capacity of government to respond to these demands is therefore critical.

Peter Lavidah, District Administrator, Middle Ramu District, Madang Province

We don’t need roads to change the lives of people. This programme is leading us in a new direction. No one wasted any money with this project. People used their own hands and the materials that were lying around them. It is up to the District to give them support but our problem is getting in the supplies. For example, we are very short of vaccines and now people are coming to us and asking for them. Now they know that vaccines can save lives and we have to make sure we provide them. It is difficult for us but actually this pressure from the people is very good because it will make the people in Port Moresby wake up.

Gei Raga, District Administrator, Esa’ala District, Milne Bay Province

“Our country has been independent for 25 years. What have we been doing all this time? Mothers were dying. Children were dying and we were worried about building a highway, about putting up a bridge and laying an airstrip. We forgot about the mothers and children in the villages, forgot about the lives of people in the community.

There is no reason for malnutrition in Papua New Guinea. We have the best food here. With good preparation of food, a clean environment and clean water to drink you can have a healthy family. These are the basics. We were not even meeting these basics but with this “Colour My House” approach and with the support of everyone at the district and provincial level we can make big changes happen.

This is not only about health. We need to get the fisheries officers involved and the agriculture extension officers involved. If people are having trouble growing their kitchen gardens, we have people in the district who can help. I can see this project as a way for us to really respond to the people, but we at the district level have to take responsibility. District Administrators like myself need to be involved from start to finish, so that we are prepared to respond to the rising demand.

“This is not a UNICEF project. This belongs to Papua New Guinea and it is up to people here to make it work.”

“The people of Papua New Guinea must not merely be passive recipients of government services, but active participants. They must be empowered to take greater responsibility for their own health and to play a greater role in the design and implementation of programs that effect them”. Ministry of Health, 2000