Remote Telefomin village development challenges

By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV News, Lae

Urapmin is a village twelve kilometres from Telefomin station – an eight hour trek through tough terrain and across the head of the Sepik river.

The village celebrated Christmas last week and now look forward for the arrival of the New Year.

But since independence an aid post and classroom buildings are still in bush materials. While airfreights still remain high, hindering district projects.

Land locked in one the toughest corners of Papua New Guinea, Urapmin village is 12 kilometres away from Telefomin station and many years away from the cities and towns of Papua New Guinea.

But like everywhere else in this country, the people here also celebrate Christmas in true Papua New Guinean spirit.

Pigs were cooked in an earth oven or mumu, despite their food crops being destroyed in the last six months by the dry spell and the recent rains that brought pests that diminished kaukau and taro.

“This community is celebrating Christmas,” said Urapmin elder, Rup Letap.

Although they celebrate another Christmas and the turn of another year since independence 40 years ago, their challenges remain the same.

There is a makeshift bridge across the headwaters of the Sepik River on which people cross, showing 40 years of government neglect.

Nearly half of the funding allocation coming from the district funding goes to airfreight.
That means, schools and aid posts are still being built from bush materials, drugs are slow to reach places and infrastructure development hasn’t happened.

Urapmin’s aid post has been closed for more than ten years, local leaders say the building, constructed from bush material with an iron roof, has been the same since the ‘60s.

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