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14 February 2013

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It shows clearly that everyone has no cultural background at all. Because of laziness and unwillingness to learn from elderly people they tend to spend money.

This attitude should stop because it's a shame in a traditional society to buy things that were once made by our ancestors.

I agree on the strong influence of culture on people's neglectful and even destructive behaviour. But we should not let those in charge off the hook so easily, because (supposedly?) they should know better.

Ignorant villagers still exist. Yes, ignorant, because either they don't know how to get the service system to work for them, or they are not being facilitated.

The latter we suspect is due to ineptness of public servants or corruption, and often both.

For example, Attituders may have read last year about the destruction of a full scale wheat farming and milling facility in Kandep. Murip Station was formerly run by the Chinese Technical Mission and then handed over to the Provincial DAL in the late 90's.

However, the local people decided that they didn't want the PDAL to run things and negotiated with the Provicial Government for another arrangement, which I can not comment on.

Anyway it's moot now if that may have worked because the reportedly the locals razed Murip Station to the ground themselves!

Kandep is one of the least developed districts in PNG. Although they do have a fancy new hospital, run by the Catholic Mission. (That's just as well because of all the tribal fighting with Laiagam.)

The best bet commodity for villagers to make money was pyrethrum.

But the uncontrolled and unscrupulous buyers, taking advantage of the rugged terrain to rop off isolated farming families, made incomes simply too low to be worth the bother of growing the crop despite fair commercial prices and the fact that pyrethrum can thrive in Kandeps otherwise inhospitable environment.

The biggest development they have had in several decades, since 'taim bilong kiap', is the new road which links them to Wabag through Laiagam, and which was being graded when I passed through in 2011. It used to take them ip to two days to travel to town, but now they can do it in an hour.

(I've written an essay on some suggestions that I made regarding livestock farming and I'll forward that to Keith.)

So, Kandep finally has good road links to town through which they may access better markets for their limited produce but they've destroyed a well established agricultural station from where activities could have been conveniently orchestrated.

Ignorance, ineptitude and idiocy. Where does it end? Where does the buck stop?

The difference, Cygil, is whether we are talking personal property or public property.

Of course PNGans know how to maintain their personal property. But our government can't seem to be able to maintain our public assets in a timely manner.

Inefficiencies in the public service comes to mind as one of the reasons. But I think the real issue lies in the budgetary constraints we face.

The workings of the government budget must be understood properly in order to build and maintain public assets.

We must get the idea that a one off spending in development budget permanently increases future recurrent budget.

It is therefore critical to also understand future revenue flows so as to fund such permanent increases in recurrent budget.

This bridge needs to be established properly when planning and executing public infrastructure projects.

And during the Bougainville crisis people used well maintained Japanese rifles and American carbines. They even worked out how to reload the cartridges.

You make a very interesting point Cygil which is well worth exploring further.

Just what does matter to your average Papua New Guinean?

Yet in the highlands thousands of pre-independence SLR battle rifles remain in full working order, having been lovingly maintained by a chain of owners over more than three decades now.

These, of course, cannot be replaced when they break.

So clearly PNGians can maintain the things that are important to them.

The question is, why don't they see machinery and other infrastructure as important?

Perhaps they simply don't value many of the aid projects, viewing them as irrelevant to their needs or wants.

Agree that there is some cultural truth in the neglect of public infrastructure.

However, it is time we rise above that and manage our country in a more organised and scientific manner rather than hiding behind the cultural veil and blaming it for our current deficiencies.

Ownership is essential, however maybe the essence of the issue goes even deeper? Why bother planning for a future if the future is a 'given'?

Inculcated culture is a very powerful force. Well meaning yet hopelessly out of step aid projects only help cement the view of a self fulfilling prophesy.

That is, why bother worrying when we know there will be no ongoing maintenance and trained staff supplied or provided and maybe whatever was sent wasn't on the domestic priority list anyway.

Let's face it, you don't need an ultra scan unit everyday especially when you're trying to feed your family. When you might need the machine is problematic if you play the law of percentages.

Many infrastructural projects done up by donors in the past have little or no input from the local or provincial and national governments and the impact/target population.

For example; an aid post built by a donor in say Tari has no staffing, an ultrasound scan machine donated to Kiunga hospital has no repair/maintenance technician or radiologist.

Infrastructure presented to people by donor agencies do not tend to get the appreciation they deserve because the local authorities do not have a sustainable plan in place to manage and maintain the new infrastructure.

Projects which involve the community from the beginning through to implementation are likely to have more community ownership and participation. Both from the governments and the people.

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