Papua New Guinea and Australian government joint programme, the Kokoda Initiative has conducted another major airlift, flying 66 tonnes of building materials into remote Kokoda Trek communities in Oro and Central Province for schools, teachers’ houses and sanitation projects.
The Kokoda Initiative is a aims to support health, education and sanitation projects along the track, and preserve the region’s natural environment and heritage value.
The materials airlifted will be used to build double classrooms in Lora and Kavovo; and teachers’ houses in Kavovo, Boridi, Bisiatabu and Abuari areas.
The schools will also get water and sanitation upgrades, including shower blocks, kit toilets and water tanks.
Seven other village schools and three health facilities had water tanks and, in some cases, new toilets being installed.
A double classroom and teacher’s house which were built in Asimba Village following a similar airlift in June, are currently having new toilets and water tanks installed to complete the project.
Whilst the local community celebrated by killing pigs for a village feast, local teacher Rudolph Kekedo said the project is a first of its kind in his village.
“The people are excited and I also expect to see a rise in the enrolment of students.”
Meanwhile, Australian High Commission Counsellor Tim Bryson met with ward councillors and community members at Kokoda Station to explain the purpose of the airlift.
He said the Australian Government was committed to working with local leaders and provincial governments to support their community development priorities.
“We want to work with you to help deliver real quality of life improvements along the track,” Mr Bryson said.
Bryson said the school upgrades were important community investments.
“These schools allow children to get a better education without leaving their villages,” he said.
“And by providing good quality staff housing, teachers are more likely to stay in communities than seek opportunities elsewhere.”
The water and sanitation project is believed to benefit a combined school population of more than 1600 students and 47 teachers.