Study on Community Engagement in Humanitarian Contexts in PNG Published

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Communicating with Disaster-Affected Communities (CDAC) Network are formally launching a report on the status of communication, community engagement, and accountability in humanitarian contexts in Papua New Guinea.

July 18, 2022

Yumi wok bung wantaim - We work together

The report—Yumi Wok Bung Wantaim– We Work Together—culminates findings of nationwide consultations with key humanitarian stakeholders in all four regions of PNG. Local communities; government leaders at district, provincial, and national levels; NGOs and CSOs; and international partners operating in PNG were among the stakeholders consulted for the report.

UNDP and CDAC Network undertook this scoping study to understand the current context of community engagement and accountability to disaster-affected populations. The report also provides recommendations for strengthening community engagement and promoting greater inclusion of disaster-affected people in their own preparedness, response, and recovery.

With its diverse cultures and social values, and distinct tribal boundaries, PNG presents unique humanitarian challenges, which are heightened in the absence of systematic approaches for communication, community engagement, and accountability before, during, and after disasters, pandemics, or crises. There is a tendency for response efforts to be pushed through with minimal community engagement, and this can lead to ‘tick-the-box’ approaches that can have minimal impact on people’s lives.

“In a country as complex and diverse as PNG, cookie-cutter approaches to emergency or crisis preparedness or response are not adequate. There is a need for humanitarian actors—government, national actors, and international partners—to re-think how we do things to ensure that the people of PNG are at the centre of all preparedness and response work we engage in,” said Dirk Wagener, the acting United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The report’s findings identify a lack of mechanisms for disaster-affected people to provide feedback on disaster assistance, or pathways for reporting and addressing sexual exploitation, abuse, and other gender-based violence that can escalate following disasters and crises. It notes gaps in policies, legislation, response systems, and policies around communicating and engaging with affected communities. These gaps result in many people, especially those in remote rural communities, being left behind and unable to meaningfully participate in their community’s preparedness, response, and recovery.

Marian Casey-Maslen, Executive Director of the CDAC Network, in commending the findings of the national consultation report said, “these point to a need for more sustained dialogue and meaningful interaction with the people affected by crisis, and with women in particular, so that they can take informed decisions and play an active role in disaster preparedness and response.”

The report also presents a series of key recommendations for initial actions that can be taken by the government and international partners to address the gaps. They include investment in repairing and restoring the HF and VHF radio network, creating mechanisms for affected communities to provide feedback and report sensitive issues such as gender-based violence, and advocating for greater inclusion and participation particularly by traditionally vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Colonel Wrakonei, Director National Disaster Centre, in acknowledging the importance of this report, said, “Community engagement is an essential part of the mechanisms we must employ to manage disasters and reduce risks. People affected by disasters and crises know what they need, including what information they want, and expect their leaders and government to be accountable to them in times of disasters or crises.”

The complete report is published on the UNDP PNG and CDAC Network websites. It is also available for download on ReliefWeb: