Bougainville Conservation, Eco-Tourism Groups Win International Grants

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UN Development Program to provide $200,000 for 2 organizations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 26, 2014) – Two Bougainville-based organisations responsible for conducting environmental preservation programs and the development of eco-tourism industry have been chosen as proud recipients of funds earmarked for developmental assistance and sustainability of their projects. The Paruparu Conservation Group and Rotokas Eco Tourism will receive a total of $US200,000 (K450, 000) from the United Nations Development Program’s Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Program.

The grants program is a world wide fund that assists small community based organisations to protect and preserve their natural environment.

The Paruparu Conservation Group will receive $US150, 000 over the next three years while $US50,000 will be given to the Rotokas Eco Tourism.

The national co-ordinator of the program at the UN Office in Port Moresby, Tamalis Akus, said she was very pleased that funds have been approved for Bougainville. "The two proposals were the best written proposals we have received," Ms Akus said, before encouraging other small conservation and environmental groups to enquire about support.

The Paruparu Conservation Group will be using this fund to develop and teach sustainable farming methods and develop village level technologies for micro electricity supply. Their chairman, Charles Mikua, said he was extremely pleased to receive the financial support for this project. "This has taken a long time and a lot of work to receive this funding and we must be sure to use it wisely and carefully," Mr Mikua said.

Rotokas Eco Tourism is currently working to develop and promote ecotourism in the Wakunai and Torokina Districts especially along the Numanuma Peace Trail.

While thanking the UN for their funding assistance, their representative Junias Repiriri said this funding will greatly help them in educating their communities on the benefits associated with the trail. "We are pleased to receive this funding. It will help us work with and educate the community to maximize the benefit and sustainability of ecotourism to communities along the trail."

Chief Technical Advisor of the UN Development Program in Bougainville, Anthony Agyenta, said he was pleased to have brought this funding to Bougainville. He said the funding enables the UN to partner with communities to undertake environmental work, and communities are expected to provide the same ‘dollar value’ in labour and local effort as the program is providing in funding.

Mr Agyenta emphasised that communities should not be looking to get payouts from this money, but should be working together to maximize the impact that will be reaped from this assistance.

Both conservation groups are also thankful for the support and assistance provided by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, especially the newly formed Bougainville Environment Bureau. Paruparu also has a close partnership with the Bougainville Education Division while Rotokas has already made links with the Bougainville Division of Culture and Tourism.

The New Zealand organisation Volunteer Service Abroad will also be assisting the Rotokas by providing a one year volunteer placement to assist with the program.

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