04 Jun 2012 WACC launches campaign to empower villagers affected by mine in Papua New Guinea
Middle Sepik River people rely heavily on the Sepik River for water, food and transportation. They are worried about sedimentation of the water and heavy metal pollution from mining operations on the Frieda River near the headwaters of the Sepik River. An increase in silt can already be seen in the river after test drilling at the site.
The people of Middle Sepik River are also concerned after seeing the environmental damage caused by a mine on the nearby Fly River. “The people anticipate environmental, social and cultural disruptions,” says Jerry Wana, Chairman of Sepik Wetlands Management Initiative.
Locals in Lower Fly Region received a settlement from the mining company after more than 1,500 km2 was contaminated due to mine waste. The damaged area includes rainforests, gardens and fish stocks.
|“Communities need to be able to communicate their concerns and voice them to the rest of the world,” said Rev. Akuila Yabaki, President of WACC Pacific. Rev. Yabaki said that marginalized groups, like the villagers in Middle Sepik River, benefit from learning strategies to communicate the impacts of such mining projects with stakeholders such as the government and mining companies. He says by learning about communication rights, communities in the Pacific can collaborate with partners across the globe facing the same issues.|
|“Strengthening the voices of the marginalized people of Middle Sepik River will help protect their culture.” (Photo by Karmin Snow, courtesy Alcheringa Gallery)|
The goal of this project is to have the concerns of the people of Middle Sepik River recognized and addressed by the mining company and the government. This project will help empower local people to make informed choices for themselves and their community.
“Many people in the village were persuaded by the mining officials. [However] after the officials left the villagers say they do not approve of the mine. The people are aware of the dangers,” said a villager from Korogu Village.
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