Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is this progress?

Papua New Guinea is undergoing major social upheaval associated with a large Liquid National Gas Project development [US$14 billion] led by Exxon-Mobil. Last year the Age newspaper ran a series of articles including some beautiful photographs by Jason South (including the one above). Traditional land owners receive monetary compensation. What happens? Here are extracts from one of the Age articles by Jo Chandler:

"The men take the new road, and take the money, and go off and marry new wives," says Naomi Samuel, president of the Kutubu Foi Women's Association.

The women left behind struggle to feed their children out of exhausted soils. Sons get in strife — into home brew and dope. Their mothers are frightened of them. People with money use idle time to fight about it — violence erupts over land, pigs and women. Fighting is not new in these parts, but with guns the bloodshed reaches new heights.

While inroads are made on diseases such as malaria, when the errant husbands return they give their wives sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, which appears to be rising dramatically in the province.

"Men get money, get drunk, beat their wives, don't feed their children," is the summation of Banima Vege, a senior Kutubu man and agricultural adviser. "Development brings both good and bad, but our leaders . . . they don't see the impact on traditional life, that money really spoils traditional life."


He [a local leader] anticipates a grim future for landowner children. "When you are given money, you don't value it; it creates laziness." They will be vulnerable to drugs, to violence, to HIV. "Communities will fracture, there will be no peace.

"Sometimes," he says wearily, "I wish we had no oil." And gas? No difference, he says.

"Unity, peace, respect and love for one another cannot be replaced with cash," he says. "The greed for money destroys these values, the vibes of a harmonious society."

No comments:

Post a Comment