Papua New Guinea, located in the southwestern Pacific, faces numerous challenges due to poverty, with around 38% of the population living below the international extreme poverty line. Inequality is prevalent, as the rate of poverty in rural areas is disproportionately higher than in urban areas. This is especially significant, as around 87% of people in Papua New Guinea live in rural areas. Many are dependent on subsistence farming and have limited access to health care and education.
Political instability, dependency on unreliable subsistence agriculture, a lack of investment in new infrastructure and an increasing frequency of natural disasters exacerbate the issue of poverty. However, on the bright side, the following five charities operating in Papua New Guinea are working to address the issue of poverty.
5 Charities Operating in Papua New Guinea
- CARE: The organization has been operating in Papua New Guinea since 1989. Its primary aim is to reduce gender-based violence and increase opportunities for women. It also focuses on health care, education, agriculture and resource management. Many women, especially within rural areas, have almost no control over their property and the money they earn. This is alongside having little to no involvement in decision-making. In response to this, CARE works to help women in Papua New Guinea become more involved in making decisions to encourage equality. The nonprofit aims to reduce gender-based violence by working directly with communities and families. It targets issues with agriculture and health care by providing training in health and nutrition and in farming skills to increase crop diversity and production. It also provides access to non-formal education and grants which enable people to find new ways of earning income. In 2023, CARE has directly reached 174 million people in 111 countries through 1,631 projects.
- WaterAid: This organization began work in Papua New Guinea in 2012 with the aim of improving access to safe water and sanitation. About 4.9 million people don’t have access to clean water in Papua New Guinea, and this results in the spread of disease through contaminated water. About 825 children below age 5 die each year due to diarrhea. Women and girls are more likely to collect water for their families instead of attending school due to gender inequality. WaterAid is working with the government and local communities to fight this by emphasizing the importance of hygiene and helping to provide clean water sources and toilet facilities. Musangan Village benefitted from the installation of 11 taps, with locals participating in the planning and building. WaterAid is also working to increase hygiene by providing more toilets in Papua New Guinea to reduce the spread of disease. The availability of toilets in schools could increase the attendance of children, especially girls who may be absent due to their periods. In turn, this is likely to equip children to access better opportunities in the future.
- Save the Children: Save the Children has been working in Papua New Guinea since 1978 to ensure the protection and safety of children. Currently, health care and education services in the country do not meet the needs of children. Many are vulnerable to exploitation, violence and child labor. The fragile, ineffective health care system results in a high mortality rate of 57 deaths per 1,000 live births. Save the Children aims to secure the safety of children by working with governments and communities to implement programs that provide health care, education and protection. The increasing frequency of natural disasters in the islands as a result of climate change places many children at risk. Therefore, Save the Children also works to encourage resilience by helping communities prepare for disasters and improve their capacity to respond and recover more effectively. In the Pacific, Save the Children reached 211,566 people in five countries in 2020.
- Wantok Support Charity: This organization focuses on education, health care and climate change relief by supporting projects that target these issues. Climate change is leading to increased water and food insecurity. Also, rising sea levels could mean there is a need for relocation. Therefore, the charity supports projects which alleviate the threats climate change brings to Papua New Guinea. It also supports the government in achieving the aims set out in the National Health Plan from 2010. This is alongside supporting organizations that work to improve access and standards of education.
- The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF): UNICEF aims to increase safety for children in Papua New Guinea by providing access to education and health care services. Around 25% of children between ages 6 and 18 are not in school. Also, compared to boys, fewer girls have access to education. UNICEF supports education opportunities and promotes violence-free and positive learning environments. The organization also assists the government in preparing for the increasing prevalence of natural disasters and the impacts of climate change through safely built schools. UNICEF is improving access to health care by providing training for health care workers, vaccine storage and newborn care intervention to reduce the risk of diseases.
In the face of pervasive poverty in Papua New Guinea, several charities are actively working to alleviate the challenges faced by the population. Organizations like CARE, WaterAid, Save the Children, Wantok Support Charity and UNICEF are making significant contributions in areas such as gender equality, water and sanitation, child protection, education and health care. Through dedicated efforts, these charities are helping to improve the lives of vulnerable children and communities, providing hope for a brighter future in Papua New Guinea.
– Isla Wright