Papua New Guinea Cooperant Handbook


This handbook deals with issues specific to living and working in Papua New Guinea.  It is a starting point for thinking about the conditions that you will face as a cooperant.  It won't have answers to all of your questions but it should be a useful starting point as you prepare to join us.  If you would like more information on a certain subject, please contact the CUSO office in Madang.  

Please refer to the Cooperant Policy Manual, your Placement Description, the Health Manual, The Emergency Procedures Guide and the Country Health Risks sheet for more information.


Background Information on Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies just south of the equator and to the north of Australia.  It is the last of a string of islands spilling down from South-East Asia into the Pacific and could be said to form a transition zone between the two areas.  PNG occupies the eastern end of the island of New Guinea.    In addition, there is a collection of islands, some rather large, around the main island mass (The country comprises over 600 islands, but 85 per cent of its mass is mainland). 

PNG’s remote and wild character is very closely tied to its dramatic geography.  The mainland has one of the most rugged terrains in the world, with 75 per cent covered in rain forest.  The place is a mass of superlatives---including hosting the world’s largest butterfly, largest orchid, longest lizard, largest pigeon and smallest parrots. 

The central spine of PNG is a high range of mountains with peaks over 4, 000 metres high. Great rivers flow from the mountains down to the sea.  In many places, the central mountains descend to the sea in a series of diminishing foothills while in other regions broad expanses of mangrove swamps fringe the coast.   Many of the smaller islands that comprise the country of PNG are volcanic with some still quite active.  The town of Rabaul was entirely covered by ash during the eruption in 1998.

PNG has one of the richest floras and faunas in the world, most of the area being covered with dense tropical rainforest.  In the highlands, there are forests of valuable coniferous trees and extensive areas of man-made grasslands, the result of over 800 years of habitation and burning.  There are quite extensive areas of sago swamps in South-western Papua and along the Sepik, and savannah grasslands around Port Moresby.

The animal life consists of crocodiles, wallabies, 70 species of snake (most harmless), over 650 bird species (including cassowaries and numerous birds of paradise) and a very rich insect fauna including, unfortunately the Anopheles mosquito, the carrier of malaria (a very common disease especially in the wetter swampy areas).

 The major urban centre is the national capital, Port Moresby.  Other major urban centres are Lae in Morobe province, Rabaul in East New Britain, Goroka and Mount Hagen in Eastern and Western Highlands respectively, and Madang on the North Coast (Buka in North Solomons province has now replaced Keita and Arawa as the major urban centre there after years of devastating civil war).  An urban centre/town is defined as having a population of 500 or over with 'urban characteristics'.  Each province (19) has at least one of these centres.  


The climate is generally hot, humid and wet year round with some regional variation.  There are wet and dry seasons but, in most places, the wet just means that it is more likely to rain and the dry that it is less likely to rain.   The exception is the capital city of Port Moresby, which lies in a rain shadow; here there is a pronounced dry season from May to October.  In most places, the wet season is from December to March, the dry season from may to October with the transition months going either way.   

Rainfall varies from Port Moresby (1, 000 mm or 40 inches) to parts of West New Britain where the annual rainfall can average over six metres per year.

Temperatures on the coast are seasonably stable year round—hovering around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius.  The humidity and winds can vary widely.  The highlands enjoy spring-like temperatures year round with cool evenings.  Although snow is rare it can occur on the tops of the highest summits and ice will often form on cold nights.

Land Tenure

Ninety-seven per cent of the total land area in PNG is held under customary tenure.  Absolute ownership is vested in a group or clan who retains control over its use and transfer.  Certain rights to land (ie: for hunting) are often collective ones, and particular areas are reserved for communal purposes.  With this group, individuals and their families have the right to use pieces of land for farming and house building.  These rights can be transferred to descendants by patrilineal or matrilineal inheritance.  Boundaries to customary land are generally natural features and knowledge of them is passed on orally from one generation to another.

In addition to customary land, there is land that has been acquired by the government and this may be leased to private interests.  There is also a limited amount of freehold land.  Since self-government, there has been a plantation redistribution scheme under which plantations have been repurchased from expatriates and returned to the customary land owning groups.

Land disputes are often obstacles to development and threats to law and order.  An additional major problem is that, at present, there is no system of registration of titles for customary land.  This often causes uncertainty over ownership and boundaries.  It also makes land transfers and development difficult: there is no security of tenure to encourage improvements and it is difficult to obtain bank loans.  Various proposals to registrar customary land have been made, but none have yet to be implemented.


The currency of Papua New Guinea is the kina. The current exchange rate is K1.00  = .50 CAD (100 toea equals one kina).  The kina has declined substantially in the last few years and has held variable values over the last year and a half from month to month.

National Flag and National Emblem

The PNG national flag was formally adopted in 1971.  It features a Bird of Paradise, which plays an important role in the social and cultural activities of many groups in Papua New Guinea; its plumes are often used as ceremonial decoration.  On the flag, the bird is shown soaring above the Southern Cross, with display plumes trailing, symbolising PNG's emergence into nationhood.  The Southern Cross, represented by the five stars, appears on the flag to signify PNG's historical relationship with Australia and friendship with other nations of the South Pacific.

The national emblem features a Bird of Paradise perched on a kundu (drum) with a spear behind it.  The emblem is said to be representative of all parts of PNG since the three symbols appearing on it are known throughout the country.  Use of the national flag and the national emblem are restricted to official government purposes as laid out in the National identity Ordinance of 1973; the ubiquitous 'emblem' carvings for tourists are technically illegal!


Papua New Guinea is considered to be a middle income country with a World Bank estimate per capita GDP of about US$ 1, 050 in 1993.  However, this masks the highly dualistic nature of the economy.  The relatively high per capita GDP figure is due to exports and incomes associated with the ‘richer’ mineral petroleum and mineral sectors and to the contribution of aid.  This disguises the fact that 85 per cent of the population—those straddling subsistence and cash economies—have a per capita income that is less than one third of the above figure.


Poverty: One viewpoint

'As we detoured towards a village called Was, I became aware of a terrible smell.  I had smelt that stench before but couldn't remember what it was.  I asked two passengers about it and they explained that in the next village were two men who had been dead for ten days and were lying roped to horizontal poles held up high by supports.  They wouldn't be buried until a compensation dispute was settled.

One of the dead was a young unmarried man.  His village was claiming about Kina 12, 000 from the clan, which had killed him; while the other corpse, an old man, was considered to be worth Kina 4, 000.  Together this made what I considered to be a stunning amount of money to be raised by the apparently poor villagers who seemed to have so little, and even less to trade.  But the men assured me that it was only money that was easy to borrow from friends and relatives.  I was gradually discovering that the people of Papau New Guinea have a different attitude to money from the one I am used to.  It seemed that their money was not related to the cost of living since they built their huts and grew their food 'free', and that any money made was extra, to be used for gambling or buying prestigious things like more pigs, which could cost Kina 600 each or paying compensation.  And not all the people were poor -- the economic development of the highlands was bringing good financial rewards to those who were willing to try out new ideas like coffee-growing, farming, etc., and the country's natural resources of gold, silver, copper, oil and timber, were only just being tapped.  I had noticed that peoples' inflated concept of money on several occasions already, and concluded that it was truly a rich country.' 

Excerpt from 'In Papua New Guinea', Christina Dodwell, Oxford, 1983.


Virtually everybody in the country is fed and clothed, even in the larger urban centres (ie: Port Moresby and Lae) where unemployment is high.   This is in part due to the Melanesian system of clan responsibility.  Wantok (one talk) is a system whereby members of a clan look after one another and share the clan’s wealth.  This has a negative side in that it encourages unemployed youth to venture to urban centres, may stifle individual initiative, and strain those individuals who are trying to reconcile traditional responsibilities with the demands of a modern economy. 

In the agricultural sector, cash crops primarily consist of coffee, copra (dried coconut), and cocoa.  PNG has a large mineral sector and virtually untapped forestry and fishing resources.  Further reserves of gold, copper, silver, nickel, oil and gas have been discovered.  The vast majority of the population is still entirely dependent on semi-traditional agriculture.  The remaining population is employed in either government services, mining, large-scale plantations or the service industries. 

Commercial and business enterprises in the country tend to concentrate on retail and wholesale trading, light manufacturing, transport and shipping.  Lae is the industrial and manufacturing centre with its links to the interior (highlands highway).

Many of the large companies are subsidiaries of multinationals, mostly from Australia or New Zealand.  Before independence, almost all commercial and industrial operations were expatriate-owned.  Since independence people in PNG have become more active within the business community: more businesses have become locally-owned through direct purchase, joint ventures between citizens and non-citizens, or joint government and overseas investment.

PNG's participation in the business world has been encouraged by national government policies stressing the localisation of jobs and requiring expatriates to train PNG replacements.  Certain categories of work are now designated as closed to non-citizens.  Certain businesses, such as trade stores and PMVs (Public Motor Vehicles) may not be owned or operated by non-citizens.


Problems in the education sector are demonstrated by low adult literacy rate and high primary school drop-out rates, particularly in the under served rural areas.  The 1990 census indicates that 45.1% of adults are literate, as compared to an average of 85% for other Pacific Island countries.  The completion rate of primary school is 59% with many students dropping out after first grade—significant disparities exist between provinces ranging from 96% of children in class one and retention of 89% to grade six, to a low of 42% enrolment and 25% retention.  Generally enrolment and retention rates for girls are lower, particularly at the secondary and tertiary school levels.  In 1994, female enrolment was 45% at the elementary level, 40% in secondary, and only 25% in tertiary.  Increasingly, female security at secondary and tertiary school levels is becoming an issue.

Low social indicators exist despite high expenditures in the education sector.  The cost of providing elementary and secondary education is three times those of other countries in the region, while that of university education is seven times.  However, this belies the fact that, according to a World Bank estimate in 1991, 95% of provincial level expenditures in the education sector went on personnel costs, leaving only 5% for operations.  Education is further exacerbated by poor communications and infrastructure network.


The following history is adapted from the Papua New Guinea Lonely Planet, 5th Edition

Pre-European times

Little is known about the history of Papua New Guinea prior to the arrival of European colonists in the 19th century.  The highly fragmented indigenous cultures left no written records and their marks on the landscape almost completely erased.  It is believed that humans reached PNG and then Australia by island hopping across the Indonesian archipelago from Asia more than 50, 000 years ago.  There have been several waves of people from Asia, and this may be reflected in the distribution of the Austronesian and non-Austronesian languages.  The Austronesian languages are scattered along the coast and are spoken throughout Polynesia and Micronesia.  The majority of Papua New Guineans speak non-Austronesian languages and, it is believed, arrived before the Austronesian language speakers.  For a very interesting account of this refer to Diamond, J. (1998), Guns, Germs and Steel: a short history of everybody for the last 13, 000 years, Vintage, Random House.

Potatoes and Axes

The first European impact upon PNG was indirect but had important consequences.  The sweet potato travelled via the Spanish and Portuguese from South America to South-East Asia; it is believed that Malay traders then brought it to Irian Jaya where it was traded to the Highlands.  Its high yield and tolerance for poor and cold soils allowed the colonisation of higher altitudes, the domestication of many more pigs, and a major increase in population. 

Steel axes were also traded from the coast up to the highlands.  The introduction of more efficient axes reduced the workload of men, increased bride price payments and, because of the increased leisure time, encouraged war—all of which boosted the status and importance of big men. 

European Contact

Although the island of New Guinea was known to European colonial powers previously, little real contact occurred until little more than a century ago.  Only the Dutch made any move to assert European authority over the island and that was mainly to keep others out of the fabulously profitable Dutch East Indies (Indonesia today).  Over time, a series of British claims were staked, as were those of Australia and Germany.  This eventually saw the drawing a highly arbitrary line between German and British New Guinea.  Germany eventually gave up its claims to the northern coast -- the mosquitoes proving too great an obstacle -- and moved out into the Bismarck Archipelago.  

European Exploration

The highlands of PNG were one of the last places to be 'discovered' by Europeans as late as the 1930s.  The Leahy Brothers made their legendary march (in search for gold) into the Waghi valley and discovered a fertile region containing a patchwork quilt of small garden plots etched into the sides of the valley and through its belly. This was home to tribal peoples several hundred thousand.  'Uncontacted' peoples in the highlands have since been found and it is possible that more Highland clans exist that have yet to discover the outside world.    


In 1920 the League of Nations officially gave Australia Papua New Guinea as a mandated territory.  During WWII all the northern islands and most of the North coast quickly fell to the Japanese.  Soon Australia only held Port Moresby.  It took until 1945 to regain all the main islands from the Japanese, and the islands--New Ireland, New Britain and Bougainville -- were not recovered until the final surrender, after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The end of colonialism

After the war, the colony became the Territory of Papua & New Guinea.  The territory entered a new period of major economic development with a large influx of expatriates, mainly Australians.  The post war world had a different attitude towards colonialism and Australia was soon pressured to Prepare Papua & New Guinea for independence.  In PNG, the process for independence was fairly rapid.  Internal self-government came in 1973 followed in late 1975 by full independence.  At this time, PNG still had a very low rate of literacy and in many parts of the country contact with government officials was still infrequent and bewildering.  Despite this, democracy has held together and PNG works fairly well by new nation standards.


There are three layers to PNG’s government: local, provincial and national. With recent Organic Reforms (1996-7), greater power has, in theory, been given to the provinces (19) and their concomitant districts.  Government at the community level is through the Local Level Government (LLG) and the more traditional village court system. 

PNG has a constitution, which provides legal protection for human rights.  The Public prosecutor's Office, the Public Solicitor's Office and the Ombudsman Commission are three important constitutional offices with functions central to the protection of rights and freedoms.  However, the country faces human rights challenges in the areas of excesses and abuses by law enforcement, correctional agencies and defense forces, discrimination and violence against women, and corruption in politics and public administration. 

Women, both through traditional institutions and through Western democratic structures are not well represented.  Historically, there have been few women in parliament or in the provincial and district level government, unless it is in a position specifically designed for them (ie: there is a Women’s Representative position in the LLG).  Women, rather, have the National Council of Women, which forms the pinnacle of a structure of provincial and district level women’s groups.  This superstructure has come under considerable criticism in recent years and, in reality, affords women little real influence on political issues and outcomes.

National Goals and Directive Principles of Papua New Guinea

Integral human development: kamapim gutpela divelopmen long daunim hevi na inapim gutpela sitdaun bilong komunti na tingting na bodi na bilip bilong yumi olgeta.

We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others.

Equality and participation: strongim pasim bilong dilim ol wok na ol narapela gutpela samting wankain long yumi olgeta.

We declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from the development of our country.

National sovereignty and self-reliance: Papua Nuigini mas bosim em yet na sanap long lek bilong em yet.

We declare our third goal to be for Papua New Guinea to be politically and economically independent and our economy basically self-reliant.

Natural resources and environment: Lukautim ol graun na wara na bus bilong yumi na olgeta samting istap insait long graun na wara na bus.

We declare our fourth goal to be for PNG's natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of us all, and are replenished for the benefit of future generations.

Papua New Guinea ways: Holim pas ol gutpela pasim tumbuna.

We declare our fifth goal to be to achieve development primarily through the use of Papua new Guinea forms of social, political and economic organisation.


Most people regard themselves as Christian (the country's constitution states its belief in Christian principles) but most are also very proud of their cultural heritage.  The older churches (ie: United, Lutheran and Catholic) seem to be able to cope with this dichotomy, concerning themselves with education, health and development issues, but there are plenty of fundamentalists (mainly American) who focus upon prosetalizing and reconverting followers of these older more established churches. 


The population of PNG is approaching five million with more than one in three people living in the highlands.

PNG is by far the most populous nation in the South Pacific.

Politically, four regional groupings can be made reflecting both cultural and historical links: Papuans (from the south), Highlanders, New Guineans (from the north) and Islanders.  People are nearly all Melanesians although some are Micronesian or Polynesian.  Settlers cam to PNG in waves and remained isolated from one another creating distinctive regional variations from the dark Buka people of North Solomons, who are said to have the blackest skins in the world, to the lighter, more Polynesian people of the South Papuan coast. 

There are also wide cultural variations between groups.  In a few communities there is matrilineal inheritance of land and other property (areas in New Britain for example), but most follow a patrilineal system with some following both at once.  The size of traditional villages may vary from a few families to 100 or more.  An understanding of traditional systems is important but it is equally important to realise the extent to which modern ways have influenced even the remotest village.

Despite distinct variations in peoples, some common denominators make up the "Melanesian Way".  The people have a powerful allegiance to their home "ples" or community, and extremely strong kinship and other bonds.  These bonds may be an obstacle to achieving a national identity and unity.

It is dangerous, arguably impossible, to make generalisations about the people of PNG.  Even the category 'subsistence farmer' covers wide differences in prosperity and lifestyle.  Some villagers have become quite wealthy due to cash-cropping, timber and mineral projects.  University graduates and skilled professionals working in national and provincial governments have become the new urban elite.  But side by side this group in the towns is a growing body of less privileged migrants.  These are largely young males who have no real skills and cannot find wage employment.  They form the nucleus of the gangs of 'rascals' appearing in many of PNG's larger urban centres (most notably Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen).

Women everywhere, and particularly in villages, are second-class citizens.  They perform the arduous tasks of gardening and child rearing.  In many communities, the men and women do not fraternise to any great extent, and husbands and wives often do not even sleep together.  Some societies practice polygamy.  Wife beating is quite common.

Status of Women

PNG has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world (UNICEF 1996).  The life expectancy of women, estimated to be 51 years, has not increased over the last decade, and PNG is one of the few countries in the world where women have a lower life expectancy than men.  Not only are health statistics indicative of the vulnerable position of women but the extent and nature of domestic violence indicates that women are poorly treated.  Most written material on women in PNG reflects these sombre realities; it is difficult to find positive information on the position of women in PNG.  However, what these statistics do not tell in the incredible strength of most women in PNG, their unfailing ability to nurture their families, persevere and even challenge their situation.


The great differences among the people of PNG are brought into focus in the multiplicity of languages, which are found within the country.  It is estimated that there are 740 languages in PNG, a third of all the languages in the world.  This provides an amazing basis for mutual incomprehension and is one of the reasons for the long search for a common linking language. 

During the early days of British New Guinea and Australian Papua, the local language of the Port Moresby coastal area, Motu, was slightly modifed to become 'Police Motu', and spread through Papua by the native constabulary.  It is still quite widely spoken in the southern Papua part of the country.  In the northern German half of the country, communication problems were solved through the adoption of Pisin --a tern used today to define any trade language.  The PNG version of Pidgin is now sometimes known as Neo-Melanesian, but more frequently as Papua New Guinean Pidgin.  PNG Pidgin is primarily derived from English although it has adopted words from German, Indonesian and East New Britain languages.

The official languages of Parliament are Motu, Pidgin and English, Pidgin being the most widely spoken.  Cooperants entering PNG are encouraged to become fluent in Pidgin to enhance both their communication skills and their understanding of the culture.  Pidgin is a colourful and fun language and relatively easy to learn.  CUSO PNG's in-country orientation concentrates on conversational Pidgin (approximately 15 hours of language training will be provided in your first week in country).

Customs and Attitudes

Bride price

Brideprice is the term used for the goods which a man's family and relatives give to the family and relatives of the woman he intends to marry.  It is a form of exchange used to compensate the woman's family for the services they will lose after their daughter's marriage.  Traditional brideprice consists of food and items of wealth (ie: shells, pigs, tusks, cassowaries and bird of paradise plumes).  The payment of brideprice starts before the marriage and may continue for many years afterwards.  In some areas brideprice increases with the number of children borne by the wife.

With the introduction of money and European goods into PNG society, values are changing.  The main component in today's brideprice is likely to be money.  Brideprice can be as high as K20, 000 (approx $10,000 CAD).  This is a considerable burden however, all family members and often whole villages are expected to contribute to an individual's brideprice.

Cargo Cults

Cargo cult is based on the idea that tangible material goods can be produced through magic. Most cults believed that European goods--ships, aircraft, radios, clothing, tinned food--were not man-made, but could be obtained from a non-human, even divine source.  Often the first contact with whites gave people the impression that by following certain complex rituals--by building odd shaped houses, walking in curious formations, hanging cloth from a pole, putting a rope between trees, cutting huge fields of grass, spending a lot of time talking into boxes which talked back and doing things with papers--the spirit could be induced to send cargo down from the heavens.  This was a fairly reasonable summation of the arrival of an out-patrol, the establishment of a post, the cutting of an airstrip and the radioing for supplies.

Beliefs in this type of cargo have declined.  Other cargo logic still exists: in one community for example the political leader promised the arrival of cargo if enough votes were received to put him in power!

The Wantok System

In a country of less than 5 million people and over 700 languages, those people speaking the same language are likely to know (or know of) each other and may even be relatives.  Thus the pidgin work "wantok" (one talk) means relatives.  The family and village structure, and hence the wantok system, are still a powerful influence in PNG.

The wantok system works a a traditional welfare system; those with the means to support provide for all of those who are less fortunate.  This often puts great pressure on the wage earners who take pay home to an extended family of relatives who all expect a share.  The introduction of a cash economy and the influences of the western world are creating serious problems within the complexities of the traditional wantok system.  The word 'favour' describes of the wantok system perpetuates itself and causes some stress in employment and politics.  A wantok who has borrowed from you or shared your bounty must reciprocate when you ask--this may be with time or money or loyalty--it is very much a matter of immediate need.  This means that some jobs are allocated by favour rather than ability, that trucks may be late because of a  wantok's moving day or that a meeting ends inconclusively because of wantok commitments.

The more business success people have the more likely they are to have many wantoks expecting to also benefit.  This type of pressure can lead career-oriented people to give up their jobs and return to their village rather than continue to provide.  Nonetheless, the wantok bond can be a warm link between people.  The positive, personal strength it contributes to the individual provides a strong security for people living in a rapidly changing society.  The wantok system is also a social security safety-net for most Papua New Guineans in the absence of well developed government services.


Payback is a part of wantokism.  It is an 'eye for an eye' retribution which is often both timeless and endless.  This is one reason for endemic tribal fighting, particularly in the highlands.  To most people, payback goes a step beyond simple compensation (another common practice in PNG).  If a member of one tribe wrongs a member of another tribe, the village sorcerer is often called upon to settle the dispute.  He may make magic or 'puri puri' on the tribe or person in the wrong.  Puri puri is used (still) by many people to explain and place blame for sickness and death.

Expatriates must always be ware of the potential in their day-to-day dealings of becoming involved in a compensation incident.  The simple gesture of offering a ride to a local person could result in a complicated compensation issue if the party were to be injured.  A road accident involving a person, livestock, personal property or another vehicle almost always results in a compensation case.  Cooperants are encouraged to be cautious, think clearly and consider the consequences before any action.

 Tribal Fighting

One can count on a few tribal wars every year in the highlands, particularly in Western Highlands, Enga and Simbu.  However, the last year has seen on-going disputes and warfare in Southern Highlands (SHP) province.  The provincial centre, Tari, has been effectively shut off from the rest of the country; often the town is without services and the only goods that can be purchased are through the black market.

The usual causes of tribal fighting are land disputes, pigs, women, and payback.  The contestants are men. Alcohol is also a major contributing factor in today's' fighting.

Tribal wars are a matter of honour, a way of settling disputes.  They are often fought with traditional weapons--bows and arrows, spears and axes--although more and more firearms are being introduced into battle.  Another consistent piece of non-traditional equipment in a tribal fight is the truck--used to take warriors to and from battle.


Generally the higher the amount of sorcery practised in an area, the lower the level of overt violence.  As a consequence in the decline in tribal fighting in recent years there has been an increase in sorcery.  This appears to complement rather than conflict with Christian belief systems as 'Christianity speaks the same language'.  There have been recent cases in Simbu where witch burnings have occurred.  These are generally directed at women, generally widows or those more vulnerable).  These burnings were initiated by young men out of frustration.  The youths were not rich or famous and thus felt that sorcery had been done upon them to prevent them from attaining wealth and status.

Excerpts from lecture by Father Doug Young, Ph.D. in conflict resolution.  The lecture is part of the CUSO PNG orientation.



A singsing is a colourful an exciting event.  People dress in 'bilas' (dress, costume, or headdress) and decorate their bodies with plants or clays.  Each area has its own traditions: the Waghi valley, for example, is well known for read headdresses with long black Bird of paradise feathers, tribes in the Hagen area cover their bodies with oil until gleaming, and the Wabag and Mendi areas are renowned for their large wigs of human hair.  Singsings are very important and often feature the traditional chant to the sound of the kundu drum.

Reasons for holding a singsing can vary--preparation for a pig kill or moka (exchange of pigs, shells, etc between tribes), a marriage, to complete mourning, the putting up of a new building, a food exchange or the visit of an important person.  They allow a tribe to show how wealthy it is and provide a chance to cement friendships.

Annual cultural shows featuring singsing groups in traditional dress are held in various parts of the country.  The larger events occur in Port Moresby, and Mount Hagen and Goroka in the highlands. They generally occur from July to September.  Many provinces hold their own annual shows in which singsing groups from neighbouring provinces attend.   


Buai or betal nut is definitely a part of PNG life.  Often chewing entails many hours seated in a group, telling stories or just listening to them.  The ingredients for a good buai chew include betal nut (buai), lime (kambang) and pepper or mustard stick (daka).  The lime is made either from crushed coral or from shells.  To produce the red mouthed effect all three ingredients must be chewed together.  Red lipped, gummed and teethed smiles are very common particularly on the coast and islands. 

Betal nut sales are an income source for many coastal areas.  Major urban centres have tried to ban the selling of betal nut along the streets with little success.  Betal nut can be purchased almost anywhere at any time of the day.  It is one of the main commodities included in the basket of goods for consumer price index calculations.


Getting to Papua New Guinea and Orientation

Here are just a couple of notes about the trip over…

It is incredibly long, approximately 48 hours non-stop if done without a layover.  The only carriers that fly into PNG are Air Nuigini and Qantas.  Air Nuigini has flights from Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.  All Qantas flights would be via Australia.  It is best to arrange for an Australian visa; layovers of more than six hours require a visa as does exiting the arrival lounges.

Baggage Allowance

Please check with the airlines before you leave.  CUSO does not pay for any overweight baggage.  However, the international carrier baggage allowance is very high and will be honoured until you reach your final placement destination (ie: international rate will be honoured by CUSO on domestic flights in PNG).

You can send books and other non-breakables to the CUSO office through the mail to save on baggage allowance.  It takes about three months by sea mail for these to arrive. 

Customs and Immigration

When you get off the plane in Port Moresby, line up in the line for those with visas at customs (to the right).  The official should stamp your passport with a residency permit.  A representative from the CUSO office will meet you at the airport, either in Port Moresby or in Madang.  In most cases, you should be able to get a same-day flight through to Madang, where the CUSO office is located and where your orientation will take place.

Upon clearing customs and immigration in Port Moresby (POM) you will need to leave the international terminal and go to the domestic terminal (once outside the doors, turn to your right and walk 100 metres to the next terminal—you can’t miss it!)  Upon entering the domestic terminal you will need to check in for your Madang flight.  Once this is complete, sit back and cross your fingers that you will fly that day.

Where at all possible get your ticket booked through to Madang (to avoid layover in Port Moresby). 

Air Nuigini top tip: often times Air Nuigini domestic flights can be delayed or cancelled.  If this happens and you are ‘stranded’ in Port Moresby, Air Nuigini will put you up in a hotel at their expense.  Go to the customer service counter in the domestic terminal and they will provide a voucher for hotel, transport and food if this does occur.

The first couple of weeks

You will receive an orientation for the first week.  This is what you can expect when you get to Madang:

q       To be met at the airport by CUSO staff;

q       An orientation to CUSO PNG (this will include health, insurance, Revenue Canada implications, legislation, programme, and  strategy in PNG);

q       An orientation to Papua New Guinea (framework will include family relations, contemporary culture, traditional roles (gender) and conflict resolution);

q       12 - 15 hours of Pidgin instruction (much of this will be contextual);

q       Accommodation and language instruction at an eco-tourism lodge about 20 minutes outside of town;

q       Your first month’s living allowance;

q       Review of acceptable purchases for settling-in reimbursement (up to K600);

q       Register with the High Commission and open a bank account.


Living and Working in Papua New Guinea

Business hours

Monday to Friday

8:00 -4:30

Please note these vary from office to office.

Canadian High Commission

The closest Canadian High Commission is in Canberra, Australia.  All Canadians register with the Australian High Commission within the first week or so of arrival.  These forms will be provided by CUSO PNG.  Canada and Australia have an agreement whereby Canada will provide emergency consular assistance to Australian nationals in certain countries where Australia does not have diplomatic representation, and vice versa.  Papua New Guinea is one of the countries covered by this agreement.  This means that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby will be responsible for helping distressed Canadians in PNG, including those needing medical evacuation.   If there is a situation of this nature, always make every attempt to contact CUSO first.

Canadian High Commission

Commonwealth Avenue

Canberra ACT 2600


(Canada Fund is operated from here for PNG)


Australian High Commission                  

Locked Bag 129                        


Ph:   325-9333  

Fax: 325-9183


Canadian Honourary Consul

There is a Canadian Honourary Consul located in Port Moresby.  Currently this position is held by Ron Hiatt with Placer Dome; he can be reached on 321-3599.



There are several email servers in Papua New Guinea that are reasonably reliable.  Local call rates are charged for dialling the server irregardless of your location in country.




The post office is open during the week from 8:00 – 4:30. Local mail is fairly quick and reliable.  Mail to and from Canada takes about 2 - 3 weeks; this includes airmail packages. Packages sent by surface mail to or from Canada take 3 months.


The telephone system is fairly reliable but varies depending upon where you are in country.  CUSO will pay for phone installation (currently K300).  It is up to the cooperant to pay for phone bills.

International operator            dial 016 (for collect and person to person calls)

Canada Direct (this will put you directly through to a Canadian operator) 

05 07 151 40

Crime and security

There is additional information located in the CUSO PNG Emergency Procedures Guidelines however because security is such an important consideration in PNG, this issue is highlighted here as well.  Currently all urban centres in PNG and in particular the larger centres of Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen have significant crime rates (NB: with perhaps the exception of some of the island urban centres, which are much more tranquil).  Violent crime has become a daily feature in the newspapers and on the 6 pm news.

The rise in crime is the result of many problems that have been building probably since independence.  The towns have been swollen by migration, often by semi-educated young people seeking work.  The jobs are simply not there, but temptations and the expectations of wealth are.  The resulting gangs of 'rascals' have turned to violence to get both the material goods and the status that has been denied them.  The government has had difficulty in addressing the problem or in introducing schemes on a sufficient scale to open more opportunities to the urban unemployed.

The low status of women is another reason for the most highly publicised of PNG's problems, rape.  'Pack' rapes are common and expatriate women are acceptable targets (maybe even 'trophies'), but by far the majority of victims are Papua New Guinean women, particularly the poor. 

You should come to PNG expecting to accommodate some changes in your approach to personal security.  Don't bring valuables that you consider 'irreplaceable' and insure what you do bring.  Volunteers will generally be provided with accommodation that has security bars on the windows and a telephone in the house (in urban centres).  More importantly you have to accept that you can not look after security yourself.  Security is a communal effort where you must rely on others and be willing to give them the same support.  Get to know your neighbours, and cooperate with them in keeping your neighbourhood safe.  Travel with Papua New Guinean friends when possible rather than alone--this will give added protection.  Driving at night or walking outside of main, well light thoroughfares is discouraged.  Find out which areas are safe and which are not and remember these can change over time.  Be aware of local changes in security as these can ebb and flow (ie; with the advent of local elections, the pardoning of prisoners (this occurred in Goroka in early 1999) and the level of enthusiasm of the police). When travelling always check out local conditions and listen to what local people tell you.  However, when considering personal security issues, be aware that some expats may be stricken with paranoia.  You may wish to balance viewpoints by seeking a second opinion.

CUSO staff have tried to ensure before your arrival that your house is in a safe area and that local security measures are appropriate.

Having stated the above, it is quite unlikely that you will not experience any major incidents while in PNG, but minor things like petty theft from your person and your home are more likely.  Please come prepared for this. The kindness and generosity of the majority of Papua New Guineans more than compensates for the less savoury actions of a few.

Education and childcare

CUSO does not cover the cost of education or childcare, so it is a financial consideration for those with children. There are International schools located in most urban centres.  Generally these schools offer Australian recognised curricula.  Fees are prohibitive (currently approximately K5,000 for the year for primary grades). 


Haus meris (housekeepers) are very common in PNG.  They provide cleaning and babysitting as required.  Pay is close to minimum wage but varies from rural to urban areas (ie: from K60-200 per fortnight).          

Health Care

PNG’s tropical climate presents a number of medical and health challenges.  It is recommended that once you are settled at your posting, you make it a priority to establish contact with a local doctor, dentist (if there is one) and the nearest medical facility. Don't wait for a problem to arise before doing so.  A personal emergency health sheet is provided which you are requested to fill out and return a copy to CUSO PNG so that we are clear what your health strategy will be and who you will seek assistance from locally.  For further information on emergency procedures please refer to CUSO PNG Emergency Procedure Guidelines, the CUSO Health Manual and the Health Risk Sheets. 

Finally, use common sense and practise the obvious preventive measures: maintain good nutrition, get adequate rest (you normally need more sleep in the tropics than you need at home), get as much recreation and exercise as possible and avoid mosquitoes.  And, always bring a ‘blue form’ with you when travelling either in country or out of the country.  These are CUSO’s insurance forms, which require the ‘medical officer’s’ (in some instances you may not be able to be seen by a doctor) signature.  Blue forms with original receipts can be sent into the CUSO PNG office for reimbursement.


Electrical is 220 volts and 50 cycles.  Most urban centres have continuous power, however brownouts and blackouts are not uncommon.

If you are going to bring appliances from Canada, check at the back to make sure that they can be changed from 110 to 220 volts.  These can be operated with a plug adapter.  The plug outlets are the same as Australia.

If the appliances can not be changed from 110 to 220, then you need to buy a voltage adapter as well.

Plug adapters and voltage adapters are available in Papua New Guinea (Brian Bell).

Electronics in the Tropics

The high humidity and temperatures found in PNG (the exception being the highlands) provide excellent breeding grounds for fungi and moulds, so you have to take extra care with any equipment, as well as clothes, etc. The best and cheapest safeguard is a 5W light bulb placed in a closet or large wooden box. Store your valuable clothes (or don’t bring them!), camera, etc. in the light closet. Keep some bags of silica gel in your camera bag to protect it from the high humidity. If you are going to a posting without electricity, consider investing in a waterproof container with silica gel for your cameras etc.

The tropical climate wreaks havoc with computer diskettes. If you are bringing diskettes, select the more expensive brands, such as Sony. Cheap no-name diskettes appear to be especially vulnerable to moulds. Always store diskettes in a light closet, or with some bags of silica gel. Ideally, computer equipment should be in an air-conditioned room, where the humidity is not a problem. Make sure to keep several back-ups of all data.

Entertainment and Recreation

Eating out

Most urban centres have at least one 'fine' hotel.  In the fine hotels one can find ‘fine’ dining (ie: pizza and hamburgers) generally pretty reasonably priced.  (Some urban centres such as Madang, Lae and Port Moresby have several fine hotels and restaurants).  Other options for dining include kai bars, which is the PNG equivalent of fast greasy food.  Delicacies such as fried chicken, fried egg, fried scones and chips can all be found here.

Most hotels have swimming pools; all allow non-guests to use their swimming facilities.  Check with your local hotel as some provide other facilities as well and for a small membership fee you can use these (ie: squash and weight rooms).


There are two major dailies in Papua New Guinea, the Post Courier and the National. There is also a Pidgin newspaper called the Wantok. 

Canadian News

If you want to keep up with Canadian news, you want to get a subscription to Macleans magazine. Canadian sports are hardly covered in the papers or on SW broadcasts, so arrange for friends to send you the scores and standings. Radio Canada International broadcasts “the World at Six” very early every weekday morning on 11705 KHz, and has two hours of programming in the evening. If you want to receive RCI’s programming schedule, put your name on their mailing list by sending an e-mail to or sending a letter to:


P.O. Box 6000

Montreal, Quebec

H3C 3A8


Golf – most urban centres have golf clubs; some have horseback riding and yacht clubs as well.  Membership prices vary.  It is always good to ask if there is a volunteer rate.

Rugby - is a popular sport in PNG as in other Pacific countries.

Snorkelling and Diving- Snorkelling is very common and inexpensive throughout coastal PNG and the islands.  Diving lessons are available in many urban and tourist havens found on the coast (ie: Kimbe, WNB, Madang, MP, Tufi, OP to name but a few).

Soccer - is played anywhere there is a field.

Squash - many clubs and hotels provide these facilities.

Hash Club - most urban centres have a hash run organised once a week.  This involves a group run, post beer swilling and food, and hash 'rituals' such as silly drinking songs.  If you ever wanted to relive your fraternity days or wondered what frat life was like then this is your opportunity (women and children are welcome).

Tennis - most urban centres have tennis courts; just ask around.

Bushwalking – in some areas there are organised bushwalking clubs (ie: Port Moresby) that do group hikes in the surrounding environs weekly.  Improvisation is required in other areas but fantastic hikes can be arranged quite close to any urban centre.  It is always best to have a local accompany you on these hikes.  Invariably some hikes cut through peoples’ gardens or haus lains.  People are generally friendly and don’t mind as long as you are friendly in return and explain what you are doing (ie: mi go raun tasol).  

Port Moresby Bush Walking Club

Charles Bowden, Newsletter Editor

Tel/fax: 320 3040 (home)

Tel: 325 9388 (work)


Mount Wilhelm – This peak is the highest in the South Pacific and is located a PMV drive away from Mt Hagen in Western Highlands province.  There is accommodation at the base of the mountain to facilitate hiking.

Eco-tourism facilities – many provinces have eco-tourism facilities which aim to promote the fantastic flora and fauna, marine habitat or indigenous culture that PNG is famous for.  Some of these are indigenous initiatives; others have been organised by external agencies.  Most offer reasonable accommodation, excellent outdoor activities (ie: snorkelling and/or hiking) and a glimpse into the world of rural Papua New Guinea.

Storying – I have included this as a sport.  Papua New Guineans love to story and can pass hours in this manner.  For uptight Canadians it is amazing to watch how people can sit dawn nating (what appears to be sitting around doing nothing).  But if you take the time to listen, you will hear some incredible stories embracing anything from traditional beliefs and sorcery to WWII and the first Australian patrols in the country. 

Coconut bowling – please consult Krishan < who is an aficionado of the sport.


PNG has its very own EM TV which broadcasts daily.  Other channels are widely available on cable.  CUSO does not include televisions in their definition of basic housing amenities though!


There is a diverse range of expatriates in PNG.  This group includes but is not limited to:  

q       American evangelical missionaries (ie: New Tribes, Pioneer Bible Translation and Summer Institute of Linguistics are some examples);

q       Church workers of the older more established churches in PNG (ie: Lutheran, Catholic and United).  These would include lay missionaries, nursing sisters, Bishops, priests and pastors, etc. from all over the world.

q       Private Industry: Mostly Australian males primarily involved in management in some capacity; many have non-working spouses who play majong, have champagne luncheons and too much free time.

q       Coffee sector: Mostly Asians who have had longstanding partnerships in PNG.

q       Commercial sector: dominated by Asians (Chinese, Korean, Malaysian, Filipino, etc) who have long-term ties to a given urban centre.  Some are the second generation of immigrants to the country.

q       Air industry: mechanics, engineers and pilots, mostly from Australia.

q       Professionals: academics and doctors, etc.  Diverse group from all over.

q       Development workers: would include volunteers, international NGO staff, national NGO staff, technical advisors and consultants (from all over, see appendix for breakdown of VSAs).

q       EX-VSOs:  The late 80s - early 90s generation of VSOs never went back!

q       Tree and fish killers: a lot of large-scale resource extraction in these sectors in addition to the mineral and petroleum sectors.


January 1st                New Years

March/April                Good Friday

March/April                Easter Monday

June 5th                       Public holiday

July 24th                    Remembrance Day

Sept 16th                    Independence Day

Dec 24th                    Christmas Day

Dec 26th                    Boxing Day

Many offices and shops (except grocery stores) are closed for the entire time between Christmas and New Years. Sometimes there are unexpected public holidays that are not listed here.  These can vary from province to province (ie; a holiday could be announced because the province’s rugby team won the finals!).  This is the land of the unexpected so enjoy them when they occur.

Professional Information/Support

There are libraries at the major universities in PNG including University of the PNG (Port Moresby), Unitech (Lae), Divine Word University (Madang), and the University of Goroka (highlands).  In addition, there are several research institutes in PNG including the NRI (National Research Institute in Port Moresby), IMR (Institute of Medical Research, regional centres), NARI (National Agricultural Research Institute, regional centres), CRI (Coffee Research Institute in Aiyura) as well as the FRI (Forestry Research Institute outside of Lae). Many NGOs, VSAs (volunteer sending agencies), including CUSO, and bilateral organisations also have in-house libraries that can be accessed for information.  If you are unsure if the type of information that you need is available to you here, please contact the CUSO office before you leave Canada.

Relevant list serves and web sites include:

q       There is a list serve called PNGDEV that provides weekly PNG development-related information.  You can get on this list by contacting

q (list of NGOs working in PNG, updated by NANGO-National Alliance of NGOs)

q       Kami Wantok Forum

q       PNG Net search

q       PACTOK (Richard Brunton) <url unknown>

q       SOUTH PACIFIC ORGANIZER  at <>  answers frequently asked questions about 11 Pacific countries and links to tourist offices, international airlines, and news sources all across the region. 

q  Online Volunteering is a new channel for development organisations

to obtain help and support.  Online Volunteers can help you with innumerable kinds of tasks you might lack staff, expertise, time or money for. Your assignments can ask for any assistance that can be delivered via the Internet, e.g. translations, website development, research, fundraising, writing articles, programming, data analyses, etc. See the current list of open assignments at <>.  You do not have to provide workspace or material to your online volunteers, yet receive valuable support and expertise to advance your development projects.  Online Volunteering enlarges your pool of potential collaborators.  The convenience and flexibility inherent to online volunteering allow people who are unable to modify their daily routines to contribute to your work.  People from all over the world look at the assignments in the website.  You can register as a member with at <>. Online Volunteering is one of the services provided to partner organisations.  To submit your Online Volunteering assignment, go to  Get your questions answered at

UNV/NetAid Team: Manuel Acevedo (Focal Point for ICT for development, R&D), Georg Eichhorn, Andrea Goetzke (consultants). Haus Carstanjen, Martin Luther King St. 8, 53175 Bonn, Germany.

Phone: -49 -228 -815 -2215 / -2224



PNG's currency is called Kina.  It has fluctuated considerably since the 'economic crisis' (1997-1998) but has remained relatively constant of late at about 1 PGK = .50 C$.  See the accompanying appendix for background on PNG's recent economic crisis.


There are four banks in Papua New Guinea: PNG Banking Corporation, Westpac, ANZ, and Bank of the South Pacific.  In addition, the government of PNG operates the Bank of Papua New Guinea (located in Waigani).  CUSO PNG has an account at the Westpac bank.  If possible it is advisable to open an account at the Westpac bank nearest you so that your monthly allowance can be direct deposited into your account.   CUSO PNG will direct deposit your living allowance by the first of every month.  This allowance is paid in advance.  At times, the living allowance may be deposited earlier than this but do not make financial commitments that would assume this; your commitments however can assume that your money will be in your account by the first.

Bank hours are 7:30 - 3:00-30 and are open through lunch. There are some banking machines (ATM); often times, these are actually located at the teller’s desks in the bank making the name ‘automatic’ a misnomer.   In many of the major supermarkets you can use your bankcard to pay for items purchased; many will even let you take out additional money.  Most stores and services accept personal cheques.


For market produce, the price is generally written beside the produce.  There is no bargaining (nor would you want to as the prices are generally very reasonable).  For handicrafts, you can ask for a second price.  Oftentimes if you explain that you are not a tourist (but live in PNG) they will give you a reasonable price.

Cost of Living

The cost of living has increased significantly since the economic crisis of 1997-98.  CUSO PNG has monitored the situation closely and responded with several incremental increases to living allowances.  This has insured that a healthy but frugal lifestyle is maintained.


As of 1 July 1999, a 10% Value Added Tax was added to all goods and services.  In addition, there is personal income tax however this does not affect the living allowance, which is tax free.


Not commonly done, but some places may have optional tip jars at the front counter.


There is generally one significant grocery store in every urban centre.  In some instances these are part of chains (ie: Anderson’s (IGA) and Best Buy).  Many have in-store bakeries, which produce some excellent bread products.  These shops are generally open seven days a week but close early in the evenings (generally about 6 pm) and earlier on weekends (usually lunchtime).

There are outdoor markets in every urban centre and major town.  These sell a wide variety of fresh produce, smoked and fresh fish, and other delicacies (ie: grubs and flowers) depending on your location in the country.  By far the best markets are in the highlands where just about every temperate and tropical crop is grown.

Second hand shops – these have excellent buys for clothing, which is imported in bales from Australia and sometimes the USA.  It is a great way to stay clothed for the two years that you are here and reduces the amount of stuffing in suitcases one has to do when making the journey over.  Every urban centre has several second hand shops to choose from so you’ll end up having favourites.

All grocery stores sell wine, spirits and beer.  PNG has some great wines imported from Australia (but expensive). Some provinces are dry and the purchase of alcohol is forbidden except in restaurants and hotels.  Currently the only dry province is Western highlands (everyone comes to Eastern Highlands for their liquor needs and a thriving black market has sprung up in response).  On occasion, there will be a ban on the sale of alcohol in other provinces (ie: near the time of elections, Christmas, any potential opportunity for a ‘piss-up’ to mitigate against law and order problems that arise with excessive consumption of alcohol).  Some areas also have bans on the sale of alcohol through the weekends (Fri-Sun).  This is the case in Madang province.  Beer kits are available in many of the grocery stores so it is possible and quite easy to home brew.



These are referred to as PMVs (Public Motor Vehicles) and are cheap and widely used in most urban centres.  There is also PMV service to outlying areas and a thriving PMV service that calls in at Mt Hagen-Goroka-Lae-Madang.  PMVs are sometimes held up on the highlands highway and even in the urban centres they may not be safe transport in certain areas alone.  If in doubt, ask around before making a trip.


Used vehicles are common but somewhat expensive to buy and run in Papua New Guinea.  It is doubtful that you will be able to afford to run a car on your CUSO allowance, so if you are considering purchasing a car, you should bring extra money with you.

Motorcycles are also available.

Transport to other parts of PNG

The most convenient transportation to other parts of PNG is by plane. Air Nuigini flies to most urban centres.  In addition, there are several smaller carriers that fly to the same centres as Air Nuigini as well as more remote areas.  Flights vary in price but are generally expensive. 

Lutheran Shipping has ferry service along the coast and to the outer islands.  The condition of its ferries varies so it is best to find out about the boat that you plan on taking first.  In addition, there are water taxis, usually a banana boat with outboard motor, that make local trips to surrounding coastal areas or nearby islands.  These are cheap and have somewhat regular runs.

Transportation out of the country

Flights to other countries in the Pacific are generally expensive.  Mt Hagen and Lae have international air service.  This means in either case that you fly via Port Moresby to your international destination.  Sometimes there are special fares to Cains in Queensland; these can include accommodation packages as well.  There is also a direct flight to the Solomon Islands from Port Moresby. 


The quality of water varies from area to area.  It is best to consult with other volunteers in your area to see how they treat the water.  In many cases, it is advisable to boil and/or filter the water.

If you are posted in a rural area, CUSO will ensure that you have a safe drinking water supply.

What to bring/What to leave behind



·         Any kind of knick-knack things - garlic presses, wine openers, can openers, serving spoons, etc. They are all available here, but quite expensive.

·         One good pot, one good knife, tea towels, your favourite spices, they may or may not be available here.

·         Zip lock bags-for everything!

 Don’t Bring

·         The kitchen sink

·         Plates, glasses, cutlery - they are available here and are cheap.



·         a good set of sheets - two would be better if you have room (not white)

·         a warm blanket (for the highlands)

·         A towel or two (they are expensive in PNG) 


Don’t Bring

·         Heavy towels

·         Down comforter



·         Any 'projects' that you have wanted to get around to for the past 10 years but never had the time to do

·         Any musical instruments that you play or want to learn how to play

·         Reading lamp (make sure it has an adapter or is adaptable)

·         Diving dry bag-great for cameras, (cheaper than a pelican case) and some silica gel (heat the gel in the oven every couple of months to dry it out).

·         Good sun screen-high factor sun screens are sometimes hard to find

·         Games, if you like them. There aren't too many board games to be found.

·         Cookbooks – Unless you want to eat rice and tuna twice a week.

·         Music - Most of the music on the local radio is South Pacific or country (Neil Diamond to Olivia Newton John (must be an Australian thing).

·         Snorkel and fins.  You will probably use them a lot if you are located on the coast.

·         Adapters for any appliances.

·         Barbering scissors or clippers, a good knife and a good flashlight.

·         Binoculars if you are a bushwalker or birdwatcher--but again more silica gel and plastic.

Don’t Bring

·         Seeds if you are into gardening. They are available here and they won't get past quarantine

·         Recreational drugs

·         Leather goods-they will go mouldy if living on the coast

·         Dressy shoes or closed shoes (again for those on the coast)

Available in PNG but cheaper in Canada

·         Film-stock up in Canada, store in the fridge or freezer.  Get slide film that includes processing if you want to take slides.

·         Cameras and camera equipment

·         Radio cassette players



Work: The common dress for women working in urban centres (and most rural areas as well) are 'modest' (ie: hems kneelength or below) summer dresses or skirts and sandals.  Note however, dresses should not be ‘strappy’ or show a lot of back (this is also good tip for the sun).  Loose fitting pants are generally acceptable and even longer shorts, but not sports shorts (except on the squash or tennis courts). 

Casual:  Outside of work, again the operative word is modest.  This can include jeans, long shorts, T-shirts,  flip-flops, etc.  For swimming women can wear bathing suits at hotel swimming pools; in the sea, especially if near villages or many local people are around, it is best to wear shorts or a sarong with your bathing suit.  Bathing suits in either case should be fairly modest (ie: leave your string bikini at home).


Work:  The common dress for men is shorts, decent sandals, short sleeved cotton shirts, no tie. Jeans and pants with short sleeved shirts are common for work as well.

For more formal events, men can wear a shirt and tie, but no jacket (even the tie is rare).

Casual: Shorts T-shirts, jeans, flip-flops, etc.  Surf trunks for swimming.  Leave your thong or Speedo at home.


It is advisable to bring comfortable sandals, Birkenstocks and/or Teevas with you (or any facsimile of these).  It is difficult to replace footwear in country.  If you want to play sports it is best to bring sports shoes with you as well.  Current cooperants suggest bringing extra footwear (ie: heavy on footwear, light on clothing).

Other tips

·         Heavy T-shirt material isn't very good. It is hot and takes a long time to dry and is prone to mould. The coolest is lightweight cotton, but synthetics hold up well to washing and dry quickly. Linen is also excellent.

·         Dry cleaning is not available or is prohibitive so don't bring clothing that requires this service. 

·         Bring clothes that will be able to stand up to repeated washing and drying often in intense sunlight. 

·         If assigned to the highlands bring a sweater and jeans.  Highland areas are at 1500-2500 metres and can be cool to cold at night.

·         A good raincoat and a big umbrella might be worth bringing.

·         An extra bathing suit as they wear out quickly



Bring them.

Quality children's clothing is difficult to find and expensive if purchased new.  Used children's clothing is widely available and cheap (some of it quite good quality as well).  There are not too many educational toys and games available, but basic toys are available at low prices.

CUSO in the Pacific

Background information

CUSO began work in the South Pacific in 1968 with volunteer placements in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Kiribati.  However, from 1973 to 1981 CUSO workers were concentrated in PNG.  After Vanuatu gained independence in 1980, the government asked CUSO to open a programme there as well, and since 1984, cooperants have also been placed in the Solomon Islands.

CUSO currently works in four countries in the Pacific: Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.  The Pacific Programme Coordinator works out of the Port Vila, Vanuatu office.  There is also a Programme Officer in Papua New Guinea and Port Vila and Programme Assistants in PNG, Fiji and Solomon Islands.  There are approximately 41 cooperants in total working in the Pacific.  The number within each country varies but CUSO PNG is normally the largest programme followed by Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji.

CUSO PNG's major role in the 1970s centred on two areas: supplying skilled workers to the PNG government and a number of church missions, and providing project funds to business groups, community organisations and schools.  Since that time CUSO has increasingly worked with non-government organisations (NGOs).  The majority of CUSO's current placements are with NGOs although there are some placements planned with projects, institutions and joint collaborations (NGO, industry and the government, etc).  The programme focuses on community however Cooperants are generally not placed directly with communities but rather the work that the partner organisation does has a community focus.  For more information on programme rationale please refer to CUSO PNG's Programme Strategy. 


Asia/Pacific Plan 1998-2001

Competing and conflicting political, social and economic forces make it in some ways difficult to describe Asia and the Pacific as a single region. For example, countries in Asia are largely responsible for the exploitation of the resources of the Pacific.  Yet, the CUSO programme has identified issues of commonality.  These include: inequitable gender relations, negative consequences of massive resource extraction, displacement of communities and the issue of land and marine tenure, threat to biodiversity in the region and severe damage to the environment.  Much of this is driven by the dominant economic model that favours economy over livelihood.

The Asia/Pacific programme includes Sustainable Economic Alternatives and Rights.  In 1999/2000 the programme is focused on three broad areas:

q       Community-based Natural Resource Management

q       Rights

q       Livelihoods

Again, please refer to CUSO PNG's Strategy Paper 1999 for further narrowing and clarification of CUSO programming in Papua New Guinea.


CUSO PNG has been operating in Port Moresby since 1978.  The office until January 2000 was in Port Moresby.  The office has been moved to Madang where an office is currently being renovated for occupation in May 2000.  This move was made due to the difficulties of recruiting for Port Moresby as well as due to the serious security problems that plague the city.  Currently CUSO PNG has cooperants in Port Moresby and has plans for another placement based out of Port Moresby.  The decision to place cooperants in the national capital district will be reviewed at least annually and is an issue that has the attention of CUSO's Board of Directors.

Current staff at CUSO PNG are:

Stephen McDowell, Programme Officer

Gabrielle Appleford, Cooperant Programme Assistant

We work very closely together and there is more of a sense of job sharing with these two positions. 

Warren Motani, Office Assistant

Warren has worked with CUSO PNG for 15 years.  He is currently working out of the old CUSO office in Port Moresby but will possibly relocate to Madang.  Warren primarily handles work permit and visas applications and other Port Moresby related logistics and issues.

Vacant, Administrative Assistant

This position is currently vacant but should be filled for 2000.  The admin assistant handles the cooperant and office bookkeeping, insurance, filing and reporting for CUSO (regionally and for Canada).


CUSO no longer provides a ‘settling-in’ allowance.  However, we do provide up to K600 Kina for settling-in expenses.  This requires that items are purchase (or at least quotations provided) beforehand to CUSO PNG.  Reimbursement will be added to your monthly living allowance. Other arrangements can be made if cash flow is an issue.  Original receipts must be provided to CUSO PNG. Items that will be reimbursed include cleaning goods (mops, sponges, brushes, buckets, etc), dishes, pans, coffee bodums, cutlery, sheets, pillows, blankets, towels…you get the idea.  If you are not sure if something is reimbursable check with CUSO PNG before you make the purchase. 

Travel reimbursements will be provided when travelling on ‘official CUSO business’.  Reimbursement will be made up to the following amounts:

Breakfast                      K10

Lunch                           K10

Dinner                           K20

Incidentals                     K15

Again, these reimbursements will be provided upon presenting all receipts and with your next living allowance deposit. 

Meetings and conferences

There is a cooperant meeting every year for cooperants from PNG as well as one representative from Fiji, Vanuatu or Solomon Islands. This is usually a two or three day meeting in the form of a retreat. CUSO PNG tries to have these meetings in parts of PNG where we there are no cooperants working so as to increase exposure for the cooperants to the diversity of PNG.  A cooperant representative is elected at this meeting. The cooperant representatives from each country then attend the regional meeting, the Pacific Area Council (PAC).  From the PAC, a regional cooperant representative is chosen to attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canada.

International Cooperant Association

Cooperants from around the world are in the process of forming an International Cooperant Association (ICA) to represent the concerns of cooperants to CUSO Canada.  The structure of the ICA is still evolving, but the goal is to allow cooperants to have more input into shaping the mission/vision, goals/objectives and activities of CUSO. In this respect, each country has one Cooperant Representative who acts as a liaison with cooperants in that country and the rest of the CUSO world.  One current focus of ICA’s activities is the effort to ensure a change to the CUSO by-laws in 1999 to allow a cooperant seat on the CUSO board of directors.

Legislative structure

The local level is the Country Constituency Assembly (CCA).  This is a meeting of all cooperants and partner organisations to advise the CUSO programme. Currently, per the request of partners, these meetings are occurring as separate venues.  A partner representative is elected at this meeting.  Every two years, each CCA also nominates an AGM representative and a Board Member.

At the Area level, the decision making body is the Pacific Area Council (PAC).  The PAC consists of the partner and cooperant representatives of the four countries, the Pacific Board member and CUSO staff.  This board discusses programming and brings resolutions to the Regional Executive Body.

CUSO Pacific is part of the CUSO Region of Asia/Pacific.  There is a Regional Executive Body (REB), but it is not currently active and resolutions usually go from the PAC to the Annual General Meeting.

The Annual General Meeting takes place in Canada around June every year.  All Area Councils from around the world bring resolutions to the AGM, the primary decision making body in CUSO.  The decisions made at the AGM direct the Board, which in turn directs CUSO staff.

Your placement

1st month

A work plan will be agreed to by CUSO PNG, the partner and the cooperant upon arrival at the host organisation.  This will provide the framework of the cooperant’s work for the first six months.

3 months

CUSO PNG staff will check in with you to make sure that you have settled in and that there are no unexpected hurdles in the way of your six-month work plan. 

6 months

After 6 months you will probably have achieved some of your goals, have met a lot more people, and feel much more integrated into your placement.  A formal six month report is due to CUSO.  This is filed in your personnel file in PNG and submitted to the Pacific Co-ordinator, the Regional Director and CUSO Canada.  You can expect a formal response to this report from CUSO PNG (the Programme Officer).  A work-planning meeting should be held with your partner organisation and, depending on logistics, a CUSO representative will or will not be in attendance.  At any rate, the work plan should be submitted to CUSO PNG.

One year

At one year, you are halfway through your placement, and there may be many more adjustments to your workplan, as well as some accomplishments. By this point, you should have a clear idea of what can be accomplished in the next year.  Another formal report is due to CUSO.  This is your last formal workplanning meeting with CUSO and the host organisation.

18 months

If your host organisation is interested in having your position replaced, or having you extend, they should contact the CUSO office 6 months before the end of your placement.

Two years

Before your two-year placement is finished, you might want to get back in touch with people in Canada. Near the end of your two years, you will have an end of contract interview and report. 

You do not have to stick to this timeline.  You are welcome to contact CUSO as issues arise, but these are the minimum expectations of a CUSO cooperant.

Throughout your contract with CUSO, we may ask you for some additional reporting for fundraising or recruitment purposes.  This is entirely voluntary but is a good way to gain added exposure to the work that you are doing in the Pacific.

If you have any suggestions for this handbook, please contact the CUSO PNG office.

Recommended Reading:

q       Anderson & Connolly (1982). Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, ABC.

q       Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13, 000 years  (Attempts to answer the question put to him by Yali, the famous Madang Cargo Cult leader: ‘Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”).

q       Diamond, J. The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee

q       Dorney, S. (1998).  The Sandline Affair: Politics and Mercenaries and the Bougainville Crisis, ABC Books.

q       Flannery, T., The Future Eaters

q       Flannery, T. (1998). Trowim Way Leg: An Adventure, Text Publishing, Melbourne.

q       Fowke, J. Kundi Dan (Biography of Dan Leahy, one of the Leahy brothers who together made ‘first contact’ with the highlands in 1930).

q       Kyakas, A. & P. Wiessner (1992). From Inside the Women's House: Enga Women's Lives and Traditions, Robert Brown & Associates.

q       Lawrence, P. (1967). Road Bilong Cargo, Manchester University Press.

q       Leahy, M., Expedition into the New Guinea Highlands (1930-35) (Based upon the diaries of Mick leahy the leader of the Leahy expeditions into the highlands in search of gold in the 1930s).

q       Marriott, E. (1996). The Lost Tribe: A Search Through the Jungles of Papua New Guinea, Picador.

q       Mikloucho-Maclay (1975). New Guinea Diaries 1871-1883, Kristen Press.

q       McCarthy, J.K., Patrol in to Yesterday. (An excellent account from one of the first kiaps (Patrol officers) in Papua New Guinea.  His tales cover Rabaul, the highlands, New Ireland and the Sepik river).

q       O’Callaghan, M.L., Enemy Within

q       Swadling, P. (1996). Plumes from Paradise, Robert Brown & Assoc.

q       Thoreaux, P. (1992). Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific, Penguin. (If you don't mind Thoreaux's cynicism, this book provides a good overview of the South Pacific).

q       Tree, Isabelle (1996). Islands in the Clouds: Travels in the Highlands of New Guinea, Lonely Planet.

Recommended Videos:

q       First Contact (video). (Award winning documentary that contains actual footage of the first contact between highlanders and the Leahy expedition into the Waghi valley in 1930.  Includes interviews with the then remaining Leahy brothers and PNG elders who were at many of these first contacts).

q       Joe Leahy's Neighbours and Black Harvest recount the real life drama of coffee, culture and identity in the highlands.

q       The Shearkcallers of Kontu is a powerful film about a disappearing culture in New Ireland.

q       Trobriand Cricket is an entertaining anthropological study of the Trobriand response to colonialism.

q       Cannibal Tours tells the story of Western tourists on holiday in the Sepik.

q       Tukana is a feature film in Pidgin about a university dropout returning to his native Buka.

Resource Books worth bringing:

q       CUSO Health Handbook.

q       Werner, D., Where there is no doctor.

q       CUSO Cooperant Policy Manual.  You will refer to this from time to time throughout your two year posting.

q       Wheeler, T. and J. Murray (1998). Lonely Planet Guide to Papua New Guinea (6th edition), Lonely Planet publishing (provides a good overview of PNG).

q       CUSO PNG Emergency Procedures (a copy can be provided in-country upon request).

q       CUSO PNG Handbook (a copy can be provided in-country upon request).


Appendix One: current events and development issues

Economic Crisis

During 1997, Papua New Guinea was unfortunate to be faced with a series of problems not of its own making.  Firstly, the drought badly affected the country's exports.  The coffee harvest was reduced considerably whilst the output from both OK Tedi and Porgera mines fell drastically.  AT OK Tedi the fall in the level of the OK Tedi and Fly rivers made it impossible to get supplies to the mine.  All of this was compounded by the South East Asian economic downturn, in particular, the forestry sector. Up to 70 per cent of logging concessions in the country closed during 1997-1998.  The impact of these short-term factors were magnified on the local economy by longer term problems affecting PNG (not discussed here).

The fall in exports was the main factor leading to the rapid decline in the value of the Kina which fell by as much as 15 per cent against the US dollar in just four months.  The price of the Kina like that of any commodity is determined by the interaction of demand and supply.  With the large drop in exports of timber, minerals and coffee the demand for the Kina dropped substantially.  As the Kina plummeted in value the price of commodities imported rose.  PNG imports a great deal, both comsumer durables and basic foodstuffs.  This meant that people felt the change in Kina dramatically--PNG's traditional meal of tin fish and rice became a 'luxury' for many.

Although the Kina has stabilised, it has never recovered its former value.  There is still low confidence by foreign investors in both PNG and the new leadership.

B'ville forms its new government

In late 1988, the multi-nationally owned Panguna copper mine in North Solomons province was forced to close amid increasing violence and on-going attacks from local landowners.  This escalated into guerrilla war in North Solomons province (often referred to as Bougainville after the main island of the province) between militants and government forces over the rights of landowners and protection of the environment.  The mine remains closed to this day.  Over the last decade, the province has experienced vast devastation to its economy, and infrastructure and the conflict has inflicted extreme trauma and hardship upon the population, particularly women and children.

In 1998, almost a decade after the conflict arose, a peace accord was signed and  the Bougainville Reconciliation Government was formed to administrate the province.  This process was undertaken with close monitoring from peace keeping forces primarily from Australia and New Zealand.  An international Peace Monitoring Group still maintains a presence in the province to this day as peace is still considered fragile and tenuous. There is a general loss of community, direction and vision felt by most of the population. Many bi-lateral organisations and international NGOs have begun work on Bougainville aimed at ’rehabilitation and reconstruction’. Whilst there is an emphasis on ‘fast tracking’ development by outside organisations only time will heal the emotional scars left by this conflict.

Mea culpa, mea culpa

There is nothing new in the story of a mining company messing up the environment of a poor country, nor of it being publicly castigated for doing so.  But it is at least unusual for said company to admit that it has done wrong, that it should never have been involved and that it should maybe pull out.  That is what Australia's Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) has done in the case of its OK Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea -- thus creating potential problems for PNG's government.

BHP holds a majority stake in the mine, located in the country's remote Western province.  For years, environmentalists have complained about the disposal of its wastes.  After BHP settled a legal case in 1996 by agreeing to pay about A$500m ($390m), it appointed a panel of scientists to propose how the mine's waste should best be handled.

Three years later, the panel has just concluded that the environmentalists were right.  It reckons the impact is so great that none of the options studied, from dredging rivers to shutting the mine, is adequate.  In response, Paul Anderson, BHP's newish chief executive, dropped a small bomb on the mining world.  'The easy conclusion to reach', he said, 'with the benefits of the reports and 20/20 hindsight, is that the mine is not compatible with our environmental values and the company should never have been involved.'

There are good commercial reasons to keep OK Tedi going.  Despite low copper prices, the mine generated A$40m ($25m) in profits last year.  But since Mr. Anderson's statement, traders on the international market have been betting that BHP will get out of OK Tedi soon, and that the mine will shut down taking about 200,000 tonnes of annual capacity out of the market.  However, OK Tedi is the mainstay of 50,000 people in an especially poor area.  PNG's government is on the brink of bankruptcy.  Shutting down a mine that accounts for a fifth of exports would push the economy over the edge.

Will BHP really walk away?  The firm is quietly investigating the liability it would incur if it sells its holdings to, say, the PNG government, which now holds a minority stake.  Jim Lewis, head of the firm's non-ferrous metals division, is non-committal about the possibility, 'We have an open mind', he says.  Of course, if BHP tries to walk away from the mine, and the government does a deal to keep it open to prevent the economy from collapsing, then BHP could argue that it should not be liable for further environmental damage.  It is a tactic that American mining firms have used in the past.

The Economist, August 1999.

Poor Stung by Malaria’s Hidden Costs

Malaria is taking a greater toll on the economy of developing countries than previously estimated, leaving them up to 20% worse off than similar countries without serious infestation, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) report by Jeffrey Sachs, of the Centre for International Development at Harvard, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Previous estimates have taken account only of the immediate short-term costs, such as the loss of labour and the costs of treatment and prevention.  But the longer term costs are even more devastating to the country Dr. Sachs says. 

“Malaria may impede the flows of trade, foreign investment and commerce, thereby affecting

a country’s entire population.  Tourists shun regions with high malaria, as do multi-national firms choosing the location of foreign investments.”

Bouts of malaria damage children’s mental and physical development.  This encourages parents to have more children, increasing population growth, impoverishing families, and preventing women from joining the labour force.  All these are hidden costs not usually taken into account in estimating the economic damage that malaria causes.

David Nabarro, head of the Roll Back Malaria programme, said the work of eocnomists had shown how malaria control was not just a health matter but a development issue.

The long-term hope for malaria control is a vaccine.  The WHO is working to encourage academic institutions and industry to increase their efforts.  President Clinton has offered tax credits to United States companies producing a vaccine.

The Guardian, May 2000.

Opinions Vary on the IMF, the World Bank and Globalisation

Fidel Castro: At the G-77 summit, he referred to the gap between the north and the south as “a new apartheid.”

Belize’s Prime Minister, Said Musa: Instead of stabilising economies, such policies [of the World Bank and IMF] “have stabilised poverty.”

Editorial: There are fair criticisms to be made of the World bank, the International Monetary Fund and the free trading world order that exists around them.  But when thousands take to the streets [protests in Washington, DC] to demand the abolition of these institutions, it is time to put aside nuances and say bluntly: The billions struggling to leave poverty are much, much better off with the IMF, the World bank and the open trading system than they could possibly be without.

IMF must find a new faith

[T]he IMF and Bank need to rethink how to manage the global economy.  For years, they have operated rather like the medieval Vatican, insisting on the one true faith.  They are now faced with unruly heretics who not only refuse to believe but are prepared to resist. 

The heretics are not all eco-warriors and anarchists.  Perhaps the most wounding attack on the IMF came from Joseph Stiglitz, until recently the chief economist of the World Bank.  The main thrust of Stiglitz’s article in the New Republic magazine was that the IMF had woefully mishandled the crises of 1997-98, but he widened his argument with an attack on its secrecy, its arrogance and its policies, describing it as full of “third rank students from first-rate universities”. Ouch. 

“When the IMF decides to assist a country, it dispatches a ‘mission’ of economists” he said.  “These economists frequently lack experience in the country; they are more likely to have knowledge of its five star hotels than the villages that dot its countryside.”  Ouch.

Excerpts taken from the Guardian, May 3rd, 2000.


Appendix Two: volunteer sending agencies in PNG



Approx number of volunteers (2000)

Area of Focus


United States Peace Corps




Teachers, community development

Port Moresby

GDS (German Development Service)



Vocational, agriculture, government placements

Port Moresby

VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas)



Mainly health and education sector);some forestry placements


JICA (Japanese)



? (only send male volunteers); have scooters!

Consulate in Port Moresby

National Volunteer Service (PNG volunteers)

<no email contact>


Rural postings, community development

Port Moresby




Sustainable economic alternatives, cultural survival of indigenous rights (primarily NGO based)


Swiss Interteam



Regionally focused (highlands), agriculture, trades, prisons


United Nations Volunteers




Port Moresby UNDP office

Austrian Volunteers



Rural postings (don’t know specifics)

Mount Hagan

AVA (Australian Volunteers Abroad)



No area of focus apparent although pushing into health

Melbourne, Australia

VSA (New Zealand)


6 in PNG; 18 in Bougainville

Focus on reconstruction in Bougainville

Office in B’ville; NVS in POM


Appendix Three: sustainable development


What is Sustainable Development? - Principles and Approaches

By Charlie Pahlman

In recent years, organizations large and small have embraced “sustainable development” as the new paradigm to explain and justify their activities. But what does it really mean? Sustainable development is about a broader, deeper and more dynamic process of learning and change, aimed at creating appropriate, equitable systems. It relates to all aspects of human activity. CUSO’s experience in Asia is mostly in rural development and some of the lessons learned may not apply directly to other sectors. Nonetheless, the following principles provide a starting point for defining “sustainable development”.

Sustainable development must:

·       empower local communities

·       be based on local wisdom and traditional practices

·       respond to the felt needs and priorities of local communities

·       involve the grass-roots in planning, decision-making and in reaping the benefits

·       respond to the needs of both men and women

·       recognize the rights of native people and ethnic minorities

·       conserve natural resources and promote biodiversity

·       minimize dependence on external inputs, technologies, assistance and markets

Development programs must:

·       be based on mutual respect, two-way learning and partnership

·       generate awareness of North-South links

·       facilitate solidarity, linkages, and common strategies between communities, individuals and others

·       educate communities about local development issues, their causes and solutions

·       promote a multi-level approach

·       propose alternative economic models


Ten Key Issues

By Martin Khor

Sustainable development is becoming the new catchword for Third World development. But there’s little agreement on what it really means. This is dangerous because aid may be made conditional on the “sustainability” of a country’s development plans and policies. Ten points are crucial to understanding the links between environment, development and sustainability:

1.     The environment and development crises are parts of the same phenomenon. They arise out of global and national structures that lead to most of the world’s resources flowing to a minority, mainly in the north.

2.     Resources depletion and contamination are too serious to allow ‘business as usual. A fundamental change in needed in the distribution of power and in control over resources, methods of production, and consumer goods and services.

3.     Equity is a central principle of sustainability.

4.     The present crisis is generated by the unsustainable economic model in the North, inappropriate development patterns in the South and the inequitable global economic system that links the two.

5.     Many environmentally and socially appropriate technologies exist in the South. They must be rediscovered and restored.

6.     The affluent not the poor have destroyed the environment.

7.     It can be misleading and dangerous to advocate universal solutions. We live in one world biologically and ecologically, but two worlds socially and economically.

8.     Environmental sustainability, social equity and a culture that allows people to fulfill human needs are integrally linked.

9.     In the struggle for environmental sustainability and social equity, both local and global movements are necessary.

10.  Self-reliance and the capability for sustainability in the South is hampered by the fact that IMF and World Bank loans are conditional on the adoption of macro economic policies and structural adjustment programs and conditional on accepting the terms of trade under GATT.