07 Jul 2014 Building Communications Capacities and Strategies for Middle-Sepik Villagers
Papua New Guinea
When Swiss based multinational mining company, XStrata, established a large copper and gold mine upstream from the villages of the Middle-Sepik, locals became concerned about the potential impact of the mine on their environment, livelihoods, community and culture. Similar upstream mining projects in Papua New Guinea such as the Ok Tedi Mine on the Fly River had been linked to the degradation of the local environment, culture and economy of villages downriver. This project brought together people from Middle-Sepik community to build awareness and develop communication strategies to assist them to establish an effective voice and presence to respond to the mining company and the government. It combined local knowledge and expertise with outside technical and organizational assistance to build engagement and communication strategies. Working with Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) based in Victoria, Canada, the project conducted workshops and information sessions in the villages and brought together village leaders to identify needs, assess capabilities, discuss strategies for responding and plans for managing relations with the mine and dealing with the barges that stop in the villages on their way down the river with ore. Specific outcomes were plans and priorities for next steps, e.g. websites, information sessions and meetings with mine management and baseline resource mapping. The Sepik Wetlands Management Initiative (SWMI) was formed in 1998 to address wetlands degradation in the middle and upper Sepik River regions and to conduct awareness on important social and economic issues. It has previously undertaken projects aimed at developing community-driven conservation projects in Middle Sepik.
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