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By Bonnie Abola

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 29, 2008) - The village of Labutali along the Huon Gulf peninsula in Papua New Guinea is preparing to relocate its 1,500 people some 2.5 kilometers inland as a direct result of rising sea levels.

[PIR editor’s note: The Huon Gulf borders Morobe Province, on the north-central coast of Papua New Guinea’s mainland.]

After much convincing by a village community-based organization, the village elders and the Morobe disaster office finally agreed last year to relocate.

A signed Memorandum of Agreement between the village development trust and community development schemes agreed to fund the relocation operation.

The new village site called Pohamo is currently being cleared by the villagers and volunteer architecture students from several Australian universities and Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology are building the new aid post under the relocation program. The aid post is the first permanent development that would be surrounded by new homes.

The new village site is located between two rivers and has been planned by the visiting students from Australia with a 50m buffer zone from the rivers. The master plan of the village would allow families to live in hamlets to promote interchange with each other to save as much vegetation and forests as possible.

Before the master plan was drawn up, the villagers were consulted and plans were drawn up according to specifications to suit the environmental conditions. The plan allows a site to cater for village meetings and recreational activities. A site for a school is also on the plan.

The master plan would be left to the village elders who would carry out the construction after the students had completed the aid post and left.

Village elders were happy with the plans and eager to begin construction as soon as the aid post was completed.

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