Power Equipment Australasia

Every day is a battle for villagers in the Sepik region of northern Papua New Guinea (PNG). Poor-quality tools and power equipment, inadequate communications, and the potential environmental hazards of a proposed large-scale mining project, are just some of the threats undermining stability in the area. John Power reports. PNG villagers call for help OPERATOR: Villagers, Sepik River region, PNG REPRESENTATIVE: Emmanuel ‘Manu’ Peni, Coordinator, Project Sepik LOCATION: Sepik River region, northern PNG CONTACT: penimanu@gmail.com F or most Australians and New Zealanders, the purchase of a new chainsaw usually involves a few price comparisons, and per- haps a quick visit to a local equipment dealership. By contrast, if Emmanuel (‘Manu’) Peni – a villager from the outskirts of Wewak in the Sepik region of PNG, and a passionate advocate for his community as coordinator of ‘Project Sepik’ – were to make such a purchase, it would require several days’ travel, payment of extortionist prices and possibly bribes for substandard equip- ment, followed by months of waiting for a deliv- ery to arrive. In this article, we will focus on two impor- tant, interrelated challenges facing Manu and his community: the practical burden of obtaining satisfactory tools and equipment for himself and his neighbours, and the potential perils confront- ing him and 400,000 fellow Sepik villagers’ rural livelihoods if a massive Chinese-owned mining enterprise proceeds as planned. Australasians can assist in relation to both these challenges by: (a) contributing to this magazine’s campaign to donate equipment to Manu and his commu- nity (See ‘Donate Equipment Now’ on the fol- lowing page), and (b) supporting political efforts to safeguard the Sepik region from inappropriate mining activities. OPERATOR PROFILE Jetty at Korogu village, Sepik River (Photo courtesy E. Peni)