Charities Operating in Papua New GuineaPapua 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Looking Forward

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
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Papua New Guinea
The common notion is that Papua New Guinea includes mostly rural tribes and coconut trees but this is not true. In fact, the large island boasts an abundance of natural resources that include gold, copper, silver, gas and oil. Papua New Guinea’s resources have attracted many foreign companies to want to work in the region and exploit its resources, including the U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobile Corp. According to the World Bank, the country’s GDP has steadily increased from $3.5 billion in 2000 to $24.97 billion today. Yet, it seems that poverty in Papua New Guinea is still pervasive.

Lack of Basic Necessities

Education, health care and infrastructure influence poverty in Papua New Guinea. Around “80% of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural areas.”According to the World Bank, less than 40% of those living in these areas have electricity in their households whether on or off the grid. Rural areas have limited access to clean water and sanitation. In fact, only 8% of rural areas have proper sanitation. This is causing major illnesses and an almost 40% infant mortality rate.

The inability to receive adequate healthcare is another factor that perpetuates poverty in Papua New Guinea. Medical facilities often lack basic resources such as equipment, vaccines and even workers. Papua New Guinea has a population of 8 million people but “only 500 doctors, less than 4,000 nurses, and 5,000 hospital beds.” After 20 years, it has recently been facing the return of polio and HIV because of shortages of vaccines and proper treatment. In addition, the majority of people living in rural areas do not have access to resources because of the lack of developed roads. Therefore, they have to walk long distances to reach these facilities.

Furthermore, not all students in rural areas have access to village schools. Some need to walk miles to reach their schools. Most of these schools lack resources and teachers who often do not have the appropriate training. In 2018, there was a shortage of 10,000 teachers in schools, most of which were in rural areas.

Education and Health Setbacks and Initiatives

The Tuition-Free Free education policy launched in 2012. This policy was an attempt in providing free education to the population. However, the government has failed to deliver the funds to the schools, causing many to close down. To make matters worse, Papua New Guinea suffered from a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 2018. The quake and its subsequent aftershocks caused the death of around 31 people and the displacement of more than 30,000. This increased the overall poverty rate in Papua New Guinea.

Many health care facilities, schools and homes underwent destruction. Providing better access to quality infrastructure is one of the ways in which poverty in Papua New Guinea can improve. The creation of more roads will increase the accessibility of health care and education. Improving the overall education, health care and transport infrastructure is one of the goals of WHO, UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In 2017, ADB provided “$680 million for the Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Program,” which will connect roads and services to around three million people. In addition, it also committed almost $3 million to the Health Services Sector Development Program and the Rural Primary Health Services Delivery Project. Both projects aim to strengthen the health services in Papua New Guinea.

The Good News

James Marape, the new Prime Minister, is making efforts to fight poverty. The education system is undergoing its fourth reform with a focus on reaching and providing better resources to the young population. On top of that, partnership projects are working to support the health system. For example, the World Bank’s Emergency Tuberculosis project is a $15 million project that has already been making an impact since 2017.

The response to poverty in Papua New Guinea will depend solely on improving the health system and education of its population. This is especially imperative now since now more than half of the population is composed of young people. If the country’s opportunities and health improve, the country can move into prosperity.

Alannys Milano
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in Papua New Guinea
Poverty in Papua New Guinea is characterized by many social, economic and geographical inequalities, but there is an abundance of organizations willing to help bring the country to a flourishing state. Here are the issues, solutions and organizations involved in poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea.

Poverty Reduction in Papua New Guinea

Since the 1990s, poverty in Papua New Guinea has been on the rise. With about 6.5 million people living in the country, more than 37 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

According to UNDP, seventy-five percent of the population is dependent on agriculture. A large portion of the population lives in rural areas, where agriculture is the main source of income. Citizens living in rural communities don’t have access to electricity and adequate healthcare facilities.

UNDP supports the government in implementing new strategies with reducing poverty in Papua New Guinea as well as promotes equality among women and men. The organization is working towards creating a financial sector in the country to make more services affordable to citizens.


The healthcare system in Papua New Guinea has been struggling in the past few decades to offer quality health services. The rugged terrain, landscape of the country and lack of transportation systems makes it difficult for citizens living in rural areas to get to healthcare services in the urban areas. Malnutrition is one of the main reasons for infant mortality, which reached 57 deaths per 1000 live births.

Diseases also run high throughout the country and clean water is difficult to obtain. In fact, 4.8 million citizens do not have access to clean water in Papua New Guinea, and over 200 children under the age of five die from diarrhoeal diseases. Other disease such as HIV/AIDS and malaria are also top causes of death in the country.

Caritas is an organization that helps bring education, healthcare and community empowerment to people living in poverty in Papua New Guinea. In 2011, Caritas implemented a program that made sure that people living in remote or rural areas of the country have access to healthcare facilities that test for many diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Caritas also started a Life Skills program to help young adults struggling with HIV/AIDS and ex-prisoners that need a new start in life.

Gender Inequality

Papua New Guinea is ranked on the top ten list of countries with the most gender inequality. Women have unequal access to healthcare and education and are very underrepresented in government. There is also many violent crimes against women and children in the country, and sex trafficking is common.

Oxfam Australia strives for equality amongst men and women in Papua New Guinea by raising awareness about violent crimes against women to hopefully stop violence before it occurs. OxFam is supported by the Australian government through many provided programs such as Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), which offers quality support to survivors of crime in the country.

Not only do they help with crime victims, OxFam also provides clean water and hygiene services to people living in poverty in Papua New Guinea.

Natural Disasters

The country is also affected by natural disasters that ruin food crops and infrastructure. In fact, about four million people were affected by natural disasters in Papua New Guinea from the years 1997 to 2010.

CARE is a nonprofit organization that has worked since 1989 to help eradicate poverty in Papua New Guinea. The organization responds directly to emergency situations such as natural disasters and droughts. They bring water, hygiene and sanitary services to areas that need it the most. CARE also assists with improving agricultural practices, education and disease prevention.

Missionaries and the Prospect of Prosperity

Aside from the many non-profit organizations focused on poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea, missionaries also work hard to bring their services to the country. Danny Markell of Douglasville, Georgia went on a mission trip with a traveling preacher to Papua New Guinea. Markell and the rest of the team traveled to Port Moresby and urban cities surrounding the capital to pass out food, water and other basic necessities.

“We gave out a lot of Bibles and coloring books for the kids,” Markell said. “We also helped out at two young camps.” Missionaries like Markell travel to the country every year to give citizens supplies, education and healthcare to make their lives a little bit easier.

Through their efforts and the work of the many organizations that provide assistance, there could be hope for the people living in poverty in Papua New Guinea.

– McKenzie Hamby

Photo: Flickr