080_Global12_InFocus_Zimbabwe

Global 13

In FocusPapua New Guinea Hazards and high hopes in Port Moresby A reputation for crime and violence has tended to hide the improving opportunities for people in Papua New Guinea’s capital as the economy starts to boom Phil Mercer Port Moresby sits on the waters of the Gulf suburb of Gerehu Stage 1, said her fellow ployment have created overcrowding, pov- of Papua, where European settlers first residents “don’t go around with a cloud erty and crime. caught a glimpse of this coastline in the hanging over them”. Anne-Marie Laumaea, a 30-year-old 1870s. In the 21st century, travellers arriv- “I feel free to walk on the streets and HIV research scientist who now lives in ing by plane are met by mighty views of a catch the bus,” explained the 27-year- Melbourne, was born in the city after her tropical city. old lawyer. “I can understand why people grandparents relocated from nearby Gulf Despite its obvious vibrancy and growth, would be fearful and I wouldn’t advise (for- Province. The family home is in the Hohola the capital of Papua New Guinea has been eign) expatriates to do the same thing.” district, where she says “life is very hard”. unable to shake its troubled reputation for “We are always in continuous apprehen- She complains that the benefits of Papua lawlessness and violence. It has in recent sion that if you drive a car you will be at New Guinea’s resources bonanza have not years been placed among the world’s five risk of being held up,” she added. filtered down to the poorest, creating “par- most unpleasant cities to live in by The allel universes” of a wealthy minority and Economist business magazine. In 2004, its Despite the privations and the rest. survey, which assessed political stability, In Hohola, it is common to find extended challenges, suburbs like health care, education and infrastructure, families crammed into small houses. Job- ranked Port Moresby the worst city on the Hohola hum with a strong lessness is a perennial problem, while many planet. households grow their own vegetables and The Australian government urges its citi- sense of community, rely on just one or two breadwinners to zens to be wary of “high levels of serious where neighbours are make ends meet. crime” in the city, where armed robbery, “Not everyone can afford to send their gangs and carjackings are “an ever-present regarded as de facto children to school, so it is like a very vi- threat”. Walking after dark is not advised. cious cycle; they can’t go to school and “Research shows two in three PNG wom- aunts and uncles therefore they can’t get employed,” says en have suffered from domestic violence, Laumaea. and up to half are at risk of sexual assault,” Moresby, as the coastal capital is more But despite the privations and challeng- Australia’s foreign minister Bob Carr said generally known, has, however, a magnetic es, suburbs like Hohola hum with a strong on a visit in December 2012. quality, attracting people from provinces sense of community, where neighbours are For parts of the population of around across the country who come in search of regarded as de facto aunts and uncles, and 300,000, especially women, a lack of per- work and better health care. residents assemble on street corners, chew sonal security is a grim and daily reality. Generations of families have migrated betel nut and talk. These intimate bonds But Serena Sarangian, who lives in the to the capital, where urban drift and unem- help insulate families from some of the worst excesses of a congested and over- populated city, where power supplies can be unpredictable, along with a creaking public transport system. Serena Sarangian, who is the executive director of the youth development organisa- tion, The Voice, is, however, optimistic that her city is being transformed by a booming national economy. “Moresby is changing rapidly,” she ex- plains. “There are lots of opportunities be- ing created now. The economy is growing. We are seeing stores, malls and cinemas open up. I am beginning to feel a buzz in Port Moresby.” “If we begin to tackle the hard issues of corruption, I think Papua New Guinea is on the rise and Port Moresby is going to see some really good times in the future,” pre- dicts Sarangian.● The Port Moresby coastal settlement of Hanuabada 80 lwww.global-briefing.org first quarter 2013global


Global 13
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