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Empowering rural communities to secure farmers’ access to agricultural markets

EU-STREIT PNG has started and inaugurated routine road maintenance activities in Yawasoro- Niengwanje and Yarapi- Suambukau of East Sepik Province.

Further to the support extended by the EU-STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea in providing an enabling environment and climate-proof transportation for the development of agri-business activities in the Sepik Region, the Program sets a new milestone with the inauguration of the maintenance operation of 16 critical roads, totaling 248.10 KM, using the locally trained and recruited Road Maintenance Groups.

The areas these networks of roads connect, have high production of Cocoa, Vanilla and Fisheries, and were struggling in having convenient, reliable access to markets.

Led by The International Labour Organization (ILO), the road and infrastructure component of the EU-STREIT PNG is focused on upgrading roads, bridges, jetties, and airstrips. This effort aims to help create an enabling environment for farmers to increase their income and profit with opportunities to participate in value-added markets to become agripreneurs under the three value chains supported by the Programme.

The ILO is engaging a labor-based road maintenance and rehabilitation program by training and employing local people to engage them in routine maintenance and provide skilled manpower to contractors during the rehabilitation of these roads.

Routine maintenance refers to small maintenance works to be carried out in all seasons on a regular basis, comprising simple categories of maintenance works. Routine maintenance involves the cleaning, clearing, and minor repair of different road elements to ensure that they work properly and avoid the damages occurred from rain and traffic. The associated advantage of routine maintenance is to restore the assets of the existing road, ensure pliability, reduce accidents, extend the time for the scope of periodic and rehabilitation works and provide employment at the local level.

The ILO team under EU-STREIT PNG also trained 126 people living in the villages traversed by the roads as members of local Road Maintenance Groups. The groups comprise 51% women and 49% men which includes 36% of youth, in respective villages and communities along the designated roads in 9 districts of East and West Sepik Provinces.

In establishing Road Maintenance Groups, the widows, single mothers, and the less fortunate people have been given an opportunity as well so they can become part of the program. The program successfully engages 9% of single mothers and 4% of widows as members of the road maintenance group for the implementation of routine maintenance. This is to ensure benefits are shared equally with everyone.

“I see that it is not good for the men only to work on the road but us females too to promote gender equity and help our brothers fixing the roads with decent paid employment,” said Claudia Yasaho, one of the trained and recruited female Road Maintenance Group members.

Claudia is a mother of three children who join other group members taking part in the 6.5 km Munji-Haripmo road maintenance in the Sausso LLG of Yangoru-SSaussia District, East Sepik Province.

The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a UN joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF, and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region, which focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through Increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development.

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