The 2019 Annual Review of the DFAT ‘Kokoda Initiative Partnership’ represents a hijack of the Kokoda Tourism Industry by Australian environmental officials.
The review fails to address the chronic dysfunction of the management systems put in place since DFAT assumed control of the Kokoda Trail in 2009.
It fails to address the lack of governance within their surrogate PNG organisation, the Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority, which has failed to account for more than $5 million in trek fees.
It also fails to address the issue of ‘pilgrimage’ which is the primary reason Australians choose to trek across the Trail.
“The Kokoda Initiative Partnership (KIP) is delivering a broad range of activities, on a small budget, in a logistically challenging environment, while adapting to political needs. Over recent years the program has focused to a large extent on direct delivery, including infrastructure projects, and the KIP team describe the program as having needed to be reactive to public diplomacy imperatives. The ability of KIP to act strategically has been constrained by weak capacity in the Kokoda Track Authority. Institutional relationships were weak between relevant GoPNG and private sector entities and little joint work took place. However, recent personnel changes within the Kokoda Track Authority have led to a sharp upturn in relationships, offering potential for greater partnership and joint planning to build institutional structures to support Kokoda in the long term”.
It is disingenuous to blame the ‘weak capacity’ of the PNG Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) for the shortcomings of the Kokoda Initiative because it is due to their own failure to establish an effective management system for the Kokoda Tourism Industry when they assumed control of it in 2009.
The direct delivery of aid-funded infrastructure projects into villages without prior consultation with local communities leads to attitudes of aid dependency and is destined to fail in the longer term.
Establishing partnerships through the conduct of workshops in local communities is a time-consuming but necessary part of the process of transferring ownership to villagers. These partnerships must include a commitment to the training and development of teachers and health workers and the regular provision of adequate educational and medical supplies.
The failure of the Kokoda Initiative to conduct a single village workshop across the trail since 2009 is the primary reason for the ‘weak capacity’ they refer to.
Progress Towards Outcomes
“KIP (Kokoda Initiative Partnership) brings together three pillars: the track, the people and the environment'”
Environmental officials responsible for the Kokoda Initiative continue to ignore the most important pillar which is ‘Commemoration’.
They have never accepted the fact that the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign is the reason Australians choose to trek across it – it is no different than Gallipoli in this regard. Trekkers do not sign up to have an ‘environmental levitation’ or a ‘cultural awakening’ – they go to walk in the footsteps of our Kokoda veterans to honour their legacy.
Their failure to acknowledge this fact indicates the DFAT funded environmental officials embedded within the PNG Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) are ideologically opposed to commemoration.
This is reinforced by the fact that they have never commissioned an accredited Military Heritage Architect to develop a Master Plan for the Kokoda Trail, and have not invested in the restoration of a single battlesite between Owers Corner and Kokoda since they assumed control of the Trail in 2009.
“The track’ encompasses efforts to keep the track open, safe and well managed as a heritage and adventure tourism offer. Track maintenance, heritage management activities and engagement with tour operators and tourism services are now progressing well, according to KIP reports, after previously slow progress due to the Kokoda Track Authority’s limited capacity to regulate the trekking industry. Along with this shift, KIP team members demonstrate thinking around additional activities and new opportunities presented by this shifting institutional context. Potential roles for women in the trekking industry are increasingly identified and provide opportunities going forward as well as ideas for thinking around increasing access to trekking for socially excluded people more generally, including those living with disabilities. There is scope for greater development of local cultural heritage activities to strengthen community engagement and cohesion, in addition to engagement with military heritage. This would also provide additional ways to engage with the tourism industry through events and people-to-people engagement and the development of cultural products to diversify local business for women. The potential to support further development of the military heritage components of the national museum could also be further explored through the National Museum and Art Gallery. Consideration of structural impediments (e.g. transport infrastructure) and potential shocks that impact growth and diversification of tourism in PNG could enhance future planning to build resilience within the sector and within communities that depend on it”.
The Kokoda Initiative has never implemented a coordinated ‘track maintenance plan’ for the trail.
The engagement of ‘Australian volunteers’ and Queensland Park Rangers from time to time does not constitute a plan. As a result, sections of the trail are dangerously unsafe; none of the bridges across rivers and creeks could be classified as safe; and there are areas that have suffered serious environmental degradation as a result of their neglect during their watch.
Comments regarding ‘potential roles for women in the trekking industry’ together with ‘ideas for thinking around increasing access to trekking for socially excluded people more generally, including those living with disabilities’ are distractions. These topics have never been previously canvassed with Kokoda Tourism operators, discussion papers, or forums, and can only be regarded as a hypothetical ‘thought bubble’.
“The People’ encompasses efforts to improve development outcomes for communities living around the Kokoda Track.Within this, a Community-Driven Development approach has recently been established and a clear operational guide was shared with the review team. Initial activities identified and implemented are reflected in KIP reporting and these constitute a good base to build on by drawing lessons from early implementation. Recent and ongoing changes in the KIP staffing structure, including new personnel at management level, should provide additional technical capacity, vision and momentum to achieving development outcomes. A baseline conducted in 2017 suggests that work to date (through Australian Government programs since 2008) already places communities around the track higher than comparable communities elsewhere in PNG in terms of development indicators and outcomes (particularly in health, education, water and sanitation) though much remains to be achieved. Plans to undertake another survey in the coming year offer a real opportunity to demonstrate outcomes with solid data. Specific gender outcomes for Kokoda are further discussed in Annex D”.
This is bureaucratic waffle!
The reason communities along the trail are placed ‘higher than comparable communities elsewhere in PNG’ is because of the $15 million Kokoda Tourism Industry which provides employment, income earning opportunities and philanthropic benefits for local villagers.
It has absolutely nothing to do with ‘KIP staffing structures, technical capacity, vision, momentum and surveys’ generated from within the distant Port Moresby bubble.
“The environment’ encompasses efforts to protect the greater area around Kokoda through the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CEPA), including efforts to achieve UNESCO World Heritage Listing. Support to CEPA centres on embedded advisers assigned by the Department of Energy and Environment. However, there is a tendency towards over-programming and underspending, with funds reallocated to support ad hoc requests. Efforts to gazette the Interim Protection Zone are behind schedule. Given the long time period since protected area status was first mooted for Kokoda, the direction of travel in seeking protected area status and associated legislation could be made clearer across the program, given implications of different levels of protection for different forms of resource utilisation and livelihoods. Given wider programming on protected areas in PNG and institutional support to CEPA through the Global Environment Facility (supported by the United Nations Development Program – UNDP), KIP’s support to CEPA could also be revisited to ensure synergies and best use of resources at a national level”.
The author of this report is either unaware of the 2015 review of the Kokoda Trail by the late Mr Peter Hitchcock AM (who was regarded as one of the world’s senior specialists on World Heritage and forest conservation) and Dr Jennifer Gabriel, an anthropologist at James Cook University – or has chosen to ignore it!
The 2015 review advises the Interim Protection Zone (IPZ) ‘has little prospect of being able to stand alone as a World Heritage nomination, at least on natural heritage values. Given the on-going threat to heritage values by mining and other development activities, no part of the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges Tentative Listed area should be considered for formal nomination as a World Heritage area until such time as an adequate extent of high value areas is formally protected. Given this prerequisite, it may be years before a suitable tract of land is protected and worth considering for World Heritage nomination.’
Protection of the ‘environment’ along the Kokoda Trail should be left to local village communities who truly are ‘masters of their local environments’ which they have been successfully managing for generations.
A ‘Trail Maintenance Levy’ could be introduced to pay them for their efforts to build safe bridges, avoid areas of environmental degradation, and keep it safe.
“KIP is close to finalising a GESI SAP, following a training supported by the Governance Partnership GESI core team. This details activities specifically on gender, disability and social inclusion which had previously not been captured adequately in workplans and reports or put within a broader strategy. Further efforts to integrate the GESI SAP into the results framework and reporting should be prioritised.
“Gender components cover an appropriate range of focus areas: women in community decision-making, women in community projects, women in business across Kokoda and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Considerations for people living with disabilities have been implemented in health and education infrastructure projects and integrated into health worker training. However, disability has not been integrated across the program and data has not been disaggregated by disability.
“IP activities on gender have been well received within the communities with clear benefits, including women taking on new roles within communities. As the program shifts to a new phase, additional elements to ensure sustainability and overcome remaining barriers should be considered, building on evidence of effective gender programming demonstrated in PNG and internationally. This could be additional social interventions and encouragement of collective activities by women (e.g. literacy groups, health support groups or livelihoods support groups) to build confidence and skills as a precursor to women engaging in community leadership or in political spaces. Additionally, the KIP could build partnerships to specialist agencies implementing attitudinal and behaviour change interventions to address barriers to gender equality and factors driving family and sexual violence (FSV) and seek opportunities to integrate appropriate elements into existing programming approaches (CDD, health and education). This would be an opportune moment for KIP to partner with specialist non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to explore synergies with promising programming models in this space. KIP currently partners with the Kokoda Track Foundation which has potential to deliver education of a higher quality. A newer partnership exists with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) around livelihoods and menstrual hygiene and reproductive awareness. Opportunities to work with and through district and provincial health and education authorities should be further explored along with potential to move away from direct delivery of services. Synergies with other workstreams, including DCP (and CPP), should be explored, particularly around voice and accountability.
“Given the change in institutional partnerships, political momentum, the maturity of the program and clear efforts to measure results, an independent review of KIP would be timely and offer an important opportunity to inform a more holistic and strategic way forward for the program”.
This is a noble sentiment however it does not reflect the reality of the Kokoda Tourism Industry.
Village communities along the Kokoda Trail are strict adherents to the faith of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. As are result there are no apparent alcohol, drug, or endemic domestic violence issues. The roles of men and women in villages have been conditioned by centuries of subsistence living and are based on mutual respect. All villages along the trail have women engaged as teachers and health workers.
Women along the trail are as smart, as strong, as tough, and as resilient as the men. Trekkers are often humbled by the sight of young mothers carrying a baby, along with a bilum just as heavy, walking up mountains in bare feet – and always with a shy, friendly smile to greet trekkers as they pass.
The problem has been the failure of the DFAT-Kokoda Initiative to introduce programs that will allow them to earn additional income by providing services that meet the needs of trekkers. For example, PNG is the coffee capital of the Pacific, but it is not possible for trekkers to buy a cup of coffee anywhere along the trail. Most trekkers would gladly pay $10 for a cup of freshly brewed coffee with a fresh scone from a drum oven (3500 trekkers X 2 cups per day X 8 days @$10 = $560,000 (PNGK1.2 million) in additional income! Add to this the opportunity for a villagers to wash and dry trekkers clothes; have a hot shower; purchase a bilum with the name of their village and ‘Kokoda Trail’ on it; and special commemorative activities at significant locations along the trail and we have the potential for them to increase their annual earnings by almost $1 million (PNGK2.1 million).
The term ‘Kokoda Initiative’ is an oxymoron in this regard as they have not introduced a single initiative to assist women in the development of micro-business opportunities to value-add by meeting the needs of trekkers, or sought to have them included as part of the PNG support crews for groups with female trekkers.
“The Kokoda Initiative Partnership results framework is not of a standard DFAT format but provides a reasonable level of detail. It could be improved by strengthening its underlying theory of change, program logic and indicators. KIP reports somewhat inconsistently against this results framework and reporting could be more closely aligned to agreed outputs and outcomes. The results framework could be sharpened to reflect a clearer program logic by addressing instances of confusion between activity, outcome statements, and indicators or means of verification. This would enable the better capture of outcomes and the telling of the Kokoda story. At present there is no regular staff MEL officer, which presents a gap in data analysis. Higher level technical MEL advice is sourced through a short-term consultant. The problem of attribution due to multiple development actors in Kokoda is acknowledged, as is the need for research to overcome this.
“Efforts to report on outcomes and establish datasets are noteworthy. KIP undertook a baseline survey in 2017 (which highlighted relatively high development indicators as a reflection on previous activities). KIP will repeat this household survey in July 2019 which should enable clear outcome-level reporting”.
This may well make sense to DFAT-Kokoda Initiative bureaucrats embedded in the ‘Port Moresby bubble’, but others will find it impossible to comprehend!
Opportunities Going Forward
“The program has entered a pivotal phase due to changes in key personnel within the Kokoda Track Authority, particularly the secondment of a chief executive officer (CEO) from DNPM. The change in approach is evidenced by recent efforts of the Kokoda Track Authority to channel undisbursed revenue into school fees (through an NGO partner) and by the revival of a Technical Working Group (including agency CEOs of the Kokoda Track Authority, National Museum and Art Gallery and CEPA, and DDAs) which has met four times in the past six months. These shifts have seen a sharp upturn in relationships between the Kokoda Track Authority and the other multiple stakeholders, including DFAT and the KIP delivery team.
“This presents an opportunity to reset KIP on a more strategic and less reactive footing, with the relevant GoPNG institutions and stakeholders coming to the fore with KIP in support. It offers an opportunity for joint planning and coordination, beyond the current consultative modality. Opportunities to work more with delivery partners with presence on the track as well as specialist NGOs in the health, education and gender sectors should be explored. This would steer KIP towards sustainability and a move away from over-dependence on the program.
“Greater synergies should be sought between the three pillars and articulated in a theory of change or program logic. This could strengthen long-term outcome goals of the program by setting them within the broader context of change in Kokoda, and PNG more widely, including national environmental policies and debates. Efforts to engage with national-level protected area management planning as currently supported by the UNDP should be explicit given that these receive significant funding from the Global Environment Facility, including support to institutional strengthening within CEPA”.
The Acting CEO of the KTA is on secondment from the Department of National Planning and Monitoring is a career bureaucrat with no previous experience in business, tourism, trekking. or commemoration.
The CEO was appointed in an Acting capacity pending the outcome of the KTA Review in 2018.
He was not authorised to ‘channel undisbursed revenue into school fees (through an NGO partner)’. The process that led to this heist of K350,000 in trek fee income should be formally investigated – preferably as a wider inquiry into the management dysfunction of the KTA.
The author of the report should be called upon to provide answers to the following issues related to governance:
1. Who was the author of the Papua New Guinea Australian Governance Partnership 2019?
2. Was there a formal application by KTF for a donation of $150,000?
3. Does the Constitution of the KTA provide for the approval of donations to NGOs?
4. How did KTF justify the figure of $150.000?
5. Did KTF provide a detailed list of recipients, their contact details and the amount to be paid to or on behalf of each student?
6. Was the donation approved by the Board of the KTA? Is there a Board Minute recording the approval of the donation?
7. If the KTA Board did not approve the donation who did?
8. Was the person who approved the transfer of funds authorised to do so?
9. Given that the donation contradicts the information on the KTA website regarding the expenditure of trek fee income – did the CEO of the KTA or the Australian Strategic Management Advisor seek legal advice to ensure there was no breach in governance as a result of the donation? If not – why not?
10. If legal advice was provided is there a record of that advice?
11. If it is claimed that trek fees were not used for the donation which Government Department was the source of the funds?
12. If the funds were provided by a PNG Government Department, why would they not have provided them directly to the schools in accordance with normal National and Provincial Government procedures?
13. Who decided that the transfer of trek fees for philanthropic purposes was more important than meeting the urgent needs of the people who paid the fees i.e. trekkers or for local village communities who have not received their fair share of benefits from the Kokoda trekking industry for more than five years?
14. What responsibility does KTF have to acquit the $150,000 they have received? How much of the $150,000 has been allocated and how much has been acquitted?
15. Who was the author of the Papua New Guinea Australian Governance Partnership 2019?
16. Was there a formal application by KTF for a donation of $150,000?
17. Does the Constitution of the KTA provide for the approval of donations to NGOs?
18. How did KTF justify the figure of $150.000?
19. Did KTF provide a detailed list of recipients, their contact details and the amount to be paid to or on behalf of each student?
20. Was the donation approved by the Board of the KTA? Is there a Board Minute recording the approval of the donation?
21. If the KTA Board did not approve the donation who did?
22. Was the person who approved the transfer of funds authorised to do so?
23. Given that the donation contradicts the information on the KTA website regarding the expenditure of trek fee income – did the CEO of the KTA or the Australian Strategic Management Advisor seek legal advice to ensure there was no breach in governance as a result of the donation? If not – why not?
24. If legal advice was provided is there a record of that advice?
25. If it is claimed that trek fees were not used for the donation which Government Department was the source of the funds?
26. If the funds were provided by a PNG Government Department, why would they not have provided them directly to the schools in accordance with normal National and Provincial Government procedures?
27. Who decided that the transfer of trek fees for philanthropic purposes was more important than meeting the urgent needs of the people who paid the fees i.e. trekkers or for local village communities who have not received their fair share of benefits from the Kokoda trekking industry for more than five years?
28. What responsibility does KTF have to acquit the $150,000 they have received? How much of the $150,000 has been allocated and how much has been acquitted?
The transfer of these trek fees, which were paid in good faith by Kokoda Tourism operators, is particularly galling since not a single dollar has been invested in a single hygienic toilet along the trail – or any other type of campsite improvement since the DFAT-Kokoda Initiative assumed control of the Kokoda trekking industry in 2009.
There is a great deal of meaningless waffle in the approach to ‘Going Forward’. The most important short-term priority should be the establishment of a Kokoda Trail Management Company as a commercial enterprise with Incorporated Landowner Groups across the trail as shareholders.
The author of this report has little understanding of the reality of the Kokoda Tourism Industry, or the needs of the people who live along the Trail.
“An independent strategic review of KIP should be undertaken to inform a more holistic and strategic way forward”.
This recommendation is more about ‘futureproofing’ the jobs of DFAT aid-funded officials in PNG than the development of a sustainable Kokoda Tourism Industry capable of delivering sustainable, shared benefits to Kokoda Trail villagers,
The ‘Kokoda Initiative’ should be redesignated as the ‘Owen Stanley Ranges Initiative’ to reflect its responsibility for environmental and gender issues beyond the gazetted boundaries of the Kokoda Trail.
Annex C: Kokoda Case Study on Gender Outcomes
‘Good gender outcomes from inclusion of women in community decision-making have been flagged as a key achievement for the Governance Partnership. This case study seeks to describe what these outcomes are and what development benefits are evident based on available evidence. Kokoda Initiative Partnership (KIP) reporting indicates a range of innovations to ensure that the needs of women are addressed in community-level interventions, and meetings with community members at Kokoda Station further clarified how women are engaged economically and socially and how these activities impact them’.
The Kokoda Initiative has not conducted any village based workshops since 2009. It is therefore grossly misleading to claim that ‘Good gender outcomes from inclusion of women in community decision-making have been flagged as a key achievement for the Governance Partnership’.
There is no evidence of these outcomes anywhere along the trail.
‘KIP supports implementation of GoPNG Kokoda Initiative Master Plan (KIMP) working under three themes: the track, the people and the environment. The KIMP does not pay great attention to gender, although it states gender equity mainstreaming as a core principle across all programming and calls for promotion of women’s empowerment. This lack of prominence for gender equality at the core of the KIMP is a concern. However, KIP has increasingly brought gender equality to the fore as it operationalises the plan under its current program design (2016–2020)’.
This ignores the theme of ‘Commemoration’ which relates to the interpretation of our shared wartime heritage along the Kokoda Trail.
‘As noted in the Gender Stocktake, the current program design has a stronger focus on promoting GESI throughout all aspects of KIP, including partner organisations. Reflecting this shift towards a gender focus, in 2019 KIP developed a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Strategic Action Plan (SAP) which details how gender will be incorporated throughout the current project design. This should ensure that gender outcomes are captured more rigorously in future. KIP’s strategic outcome areas for gender align with the Australian Government Gender Action Plan (GAP II)’.
The term ‘stocktake’ is offensive and demeaning as it relates to objects.
‘These are as follows:
- KIP Strategic Outcome Areas
- Enhanced visibility of gender equality, women’s empowerment and social inclusion within the program.
- Demonstration of a fully integrated approach, into management arrangements and improved coordination with all development efforts across the Kokoda Track region.
- Enhanced women’s leadership and influence in decision-making at the village, ward and local level government levels.
- Increased economic and job opportunities for women, girls and those socially excluded.
- Increased number of women and those socially excluded across the Kokoda Track to participate fully, freely and safely in economic and social life.
‘These outcomes constitute adoption of a programmatic approach to gender equality seen in the level of activities and outputs that include women or address gender equality, rather than ultimate outcomes in the lives of women per se’.
What the hell is a ‘programmatic approach to gender equality’ along the Kokoda Trail?
There have been no noticeable changes to the roles of villagers along the trail over recent generations – and probably for generations before then. Traditional village communities have traditional roles with each group taking the lead in their various areas of responsibility. All are keen for their children to be educated, and there is a high level of participation from both boys and girls at their local schools.
‘With the focus on gender equality evolving rapidly in recent years but having only recently been articulated, it is hard to assess progress in concrete terms and against clear indicators. This is compounded by a lack of adequate data that specifically addresses the expected results areas’.
This ‘focus on gender equality’ is driven by aid-funded Australian officials and consultants – it is not relevant to communities along the Kokoda Trail.
‘However, reports and consultations strongly suggest that KIP has successfully integrated a number of key initiatives to raise the profile of gender equality and integrate it across development programming. At the same time, specific efforts have been made to increase women’s economic activities and to enhance their participation and influence in community decision-making processes, the focus of the case study’.
There is absolutely no evidence of any increase in ‘economic activity’ in villages along the Kokoda Trail.
This can be attributed to the fact that villagers have never been trained to ‘value-add’ to the Kokoda Tourism Industry by providing services and goods to meet the needs of trekkers.
‘Across PNG, traditionally women in many communities have not filled decision-making or other public-facing roles within communities. In Kokoda, in addition to broader cultural norms and barriers around gender, specific gendered dynamics are introduced by the nature of the trekking industry. Together these present additional challenges for women as well as opportunities for change’.
Not sure what this means – there is no evidence of ‘specific gendered dynamics’ being introduced ‘by the nature of the trekking industry’. Absolutely none!
‘Trekking generates cash income in remote communities with little other economic opportunities. To a large extent, men in the Kokoda communities are absent for long periods of time during the trekking season as they take roles as porters and guides. This leaves women and a high proportion of children in the communities. This necessitates women undertaking additional burdens in the absence of male family members. At the same time, the trekking industry presents additional opportunities to earn income if women engage economically. For many women this means running guest houses or campsites. Efforts by KIP in recent years have focused on diversifying the range of trekking-based economic opportunities for women as well as ensuring that women engage in collective efforts to organise trekking-based industries or landowner groups’.
‘Men in the Kokoda communities are absent for long periods of time’ is an uninformed generalisation.
Many of the guides and carriers are from the Sogeri and Kokoda areas – they are unemployed when there are no treks.
Women do not run ‘guesthouses or campsites’ – these are primarily owned and operated by men, however they do work on a collaborative basis with women assisting in cooking and cleaning as they have always done.
There is no evidence of KIP ‘diversifying the range of trekking-based economic opportunities for women’ or ‘ensuring that women engage in collective efforts to organise trekking-based industries for landowner groups’.
There is also no evidence that KIP has identified any ‘landowner groups’.
‘KIP has focused on defining and socialising norms of collective organisation that involve women, through a compulsory requirement for their inclusion in formal committees and boards with minimum numbers and a looser requirement for equitable balance. Women have been included in board of management trainings. Informants noted many cases where women have been selected to participate and were supported or mentored to do so, including in management committees in health and education facilities as well as the campsite and guest haus association where rules of association including women have been defined’.
There is no evidence of these outcomes in villages along the Kokoda Trail.
‘KIP has supported establishment and capacity building of the Campsite and Guesthouse Owners Association. This now has a board of 16, of which four are women (including the Association Secretary). The association has a clear gender lens across its constitution and code of conduct/practice’.
The bureaucratic response to all challenges on the Kokoda Trail is to either establish a committee, hold a ‘forum’ or support a sycophantic ‘association’.
The Kokoda Initiative has been operational for 10 years, but they have no idea of what constitutes a ‘campsite’ or a ‘guesthouse’. They have no idea how many there are along the trail, or who owns them. Their past attempts to establish a ‘certification’ program have failed.
KIP has also failed to conduct any research to determine trekkers needs for campsites – as a result, campsite owners have never been supported or trained to meet these needs – as a result there is not a single toilet that meets the most basic hygiene standards along the Trail.
Unfortunately, the Kokoda Initiative is unaware of the cultural complexities along the trail – as a result the ‘association’ they refer to will never work.
‘Women are also engaged in community-level committees to develop and manage community museums. This participation is shaping development of trade hauses alongside local museums to promote women’s economic activities selling crafts and cultural products to trekkers which promises real development benefits to women and their households’.
A review of the cost-benefits of the ‘community museums’ and ‘trade hauses’ will reveal that they will never produce an economic return.
They were the result of a ‘Port Moresby ‘thought-bubble’ and were introduced without any consultation with trekkers or landowners, or any cost-benefit analysis.
The most effective means of generating income from trekkers is through the provision of services to meet their needs. KIP are unaware of this because they have never trekked with groups who specialise in the military history of the Kokoda campaign in order to better understand the needs of the paying customers i.e., trekkers.
‘Alongside this promotion of formalised participation, KIP has emphasised the importance of equitable participation of men and women in broader community-level consultations. In particular, a community-driven development (CDD) program has been introduced to identify community initiatives through consultations with both men and women. Over the past year, five CDD initiatives were implemented, of which three directly support women, reflecting the positive outcomes of their participation in consultation processes. These were the community museum and trade hauses, a solar light initiative that ensures light for all households and a menstrual hygiene project’.
According to the Rangers at Alola and Efogi there was no community consultation in regard to the ‘community museums and trade hauses’.
Trek operators (who generate the $15 million Kokoda Tourism Industry) are not aware of any ‘community-driven development (CDD) initiatives’. If such initiatives have been introduced there should be records of structured village-based meetings/workshops to record the process.
There is no evidence of any results from these supposed ‘community-driven development initiatives‘ – and no reports as to their purpose or evidence of any outcomes.
‘The seif meri mun menstrual hygiene project implemented in conjunction with ADRA was hailed by informants as a welcome innovation, providing new skills to women (and two men) who learnt how to sew menstrual hygiene products, and benefiting women and girls who received these. Additionally, the project stimulated discussions around menstrual hygiene and broader sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Informants noted that discussions within communities were wide ranging following this and engaged both men and women in learning about the reproductive process and SRH. However, the initiative remains limited in scope and is, at present, not sustainable at the community level. It has potential to be sustained within the structure of ADRA’s vocational training college but would need a longer-term plan.
‘As well as roles in consultative and decision-making mechanisms, KIP supports women to engage in economic activities as part of the wider program. Guidelines promote the equal participation of men and women in project activities, for example requiring contractors to use both men and women as labourers in infrastructure projects to reinforce the message of women as economic actors and ensure that some income from these larger development projects goes to women. However, achievement of these requirements is not explicit and greater effort could be made to describe where this is possible and where it is not.
‘Additionally, project activities also support women to undertake valuable social roles in the community, particularly as Village Health Volunteers (VHVs) where both men and women undertake crucial outreach functions following training and mentoring, including maternal and child health checks, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV testing and public health awareness raising. VHVs described the value they bring to women in remote locations and the dedication to their roles in challenging circumstances was evident, including finding any means possible to help women in childbirth reach hospital over inaccessible terrain and in a context where many women die due to the reluctance of family members to take them to hospital. All such visible roles within the community further reinforce the benefits of women’s empowerment’.
These are aid-related development programs and not related to the practical management of the Kokoda Tourism Industry.
‘Women’s social and economic activities to date appear well received across the communities as benefits are seen and discussions on additional ways in which women can contribute are ongoing. An interesting new avenue to build on general support is potential for women to undertake community ranger roles within the emerging protected area framework and management plan. KIP is aware of one other comparable example from the South Fly region of PNG and is able to describe key considerations in designing these roles to include women’.
The ‘ranger system’ put in place by the Australian Government along the Kokoda Trail has been an unmitigated failure due to a lack of training, reporting systems, and support from the management authority.
‘Despite these impressive efforts to normalise women’s engagement in local decision-making and some specific initiatives uniquely addressing women’s needs through women-led processes, persistent challenges to participation remain for many women. These include domestic responsibilities, lack of confidence, resistance from family members and power dynamics that prevent meaningful engagement or influence of women.
‘Family and sexual violence (FSV) presents a key challenge as elsewhere in PNG. KIP currently has a gap in terms of addressing this but demonstrates emergent thinking on how to work with specialist organisations to tackle this. Most importantly, with the risk of backlash and increased violence high in response to gender equality programming, KIP urgently needs to ensure a ‘do no harm’ approach that spans all programming’.
This is a disgraceful slur on village communities along the Kokoda Trail.
Family and sexual violence is not an issue along the Trail due to the fact that local communities are committed to their Seventh Day Adventist faith and do not allow for the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
Obviously, another generalisation from a remote ‘desk-top’ observer.
‘In other contexts, additional activities have been effective in addressing persistent challenges. For example, women’s confidence to participate at all and to do so with impact as representatives of other women can be increased through literacy interventions. Additionally, where women have little history of collective action or even economic and social engagement introducing projects for women to act collectively in a simpler space can be an effective precursor to wider engagement and influence. This might include livelihood support groups or health support groups.
‘Other barriers to women’s real influence and ability to benefit from opportunities have been addressed effectively elsewhere in PNG with behaviour change interventions, particularly working with men at household level or with community gatekeepers. These are also effective responses to FSV. Other work on norms has proved effective in helping households to plan jointly for generation and use of resources, reducing the likelihood of backlash against women earning money where collective benefits are recognised and increasing the positive impact of increased incomes across the household. To move further towards real development benefits for women, households and the wider community innovative programming models to address persistent challenges could be implemented in partnership with specialist NGOs’.
This is hardy relevant for villagers along the Kokoda Trail – unnecessary waffle to pad out the report.
‘A baseline conducted in Kokoda in 2017 showed that key gender-related development indicators were good compared to other areas, including numbers of attended births or gender parity in school attendance. With clear changes at programmatic level and reported positive outcomes in terms of participation, it is to be expected that this positive development trajectory remains evident when a new survey is undertaken in 2019. The repeat household survey could include more detailed enquiry into women’s roles in leadership, both in terms of how they function and what changes this sets in motion in terms of wider development outcomes as a basis for further interventions’.
Elementary and primary schools have s been well attended by boys and girls from villages across the Trail well before the KIP was established. This is also the case at boarding schools at Sogeri and Iaowari High Schools. Families are conscious of the benefits of education and have always placed a high value on it.
‘In other parts of KIP gender equality considerations could be further incorporated. A key area is institutionalisation of the government GESI policy within the Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) or within the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG). There is an opportunity for women’s participation to run further through the program although gendered perspectives are already recognised. For example, NMAG principles include a gendered approach to heritage interpretation, highlighting women’s stories wherever possible, but it is important that it reflects this value across its staffing and community engagements’.
This is not relevant to the Kokoda Tourism Industry, or villages along the Kokoda Trail.
‘Overall, the indications are positive that changes introduced to KIP to address gender inequality have set the program on a good trajectory towards higher level development outcomes. The combination of supporting women into leadership roles, broader economic empowerment of women and other social interventions appear to be mutually reinforcing and present an opportunity to complement this with deeper behaviour change and norms interventions to tackle more deep-rooted barriers to development. Additional ways to reinforce the value of women’s participation where cultural norms may count against this could be introduced, particularly work at household or community level around resource and role sharing and identification of the benefits for all where women are more active in social and economic roles.
‘Women in decision-making can deliberately foster broader participation of women in social life, with a focus on voice and accountability. As KIP evolves over coming years in the context of political and institutional change in PNG there will be opportunities to foster citizen participation more broadly to build relationships between citizens and state and non-state service providers. The work done to date under KIP is good preparation but can be further consolidated to ensure that women across communities are able to engage as these channels evolve’.
KIPs views that ‘indications are positive that changes introduced to KIP to address gender inequality have set the program on a good trajectory towards higher level development outcomes’ and ‘the work done to date under KIP is good preparation but can be further consolidated to ensure that women across communities are able to engage as these channels evolve’ do not reflect the reality of village life across the Kokoda Trail.
KIPs failure to hold annual workshops in villages and conduct training programs to enable local communities to ‘value-add’ to the Kokoda Tourism Industry since they assumed control in 2009 is difficult to understand. It is indicative of a ‘top-down’ academic approach that will never work in a subsistence village environment.
Village workshops should be conducted on an annual basis by facilitators familiar with Melanesian culture, and each process should be recorded – they should be structured to involve men; women; men and women together; and local youth. This would be far more effective than the conduct of a Port Moresby ‘desk-top’ study approach as reflected in this Annual Report.