Yalanda – a story of partnership


Yalanda was hit hard by last year’s earthquake – but recovery is well and truly underway.

The little Southern Highlands village lost six of its 1300 people during the February disaster, while several others were left with injuries, or without their possessions and homes.

Almost 600 residents have since had to move to a care-centre kilometres away in Kekero. A further 30 have made their way to Endela, where they are attempting to clear the land for permanent relocation.

Today, the people of Yalanda are still spread across three different locations, but the good news is the community is leading the way in determining their own future with help from a diverse number of partners.

Last November, leaders invited the assistance of several government agencies and NGOs to hassess recovery efforts and see what could be done to improve them. The group included representatives from the Oil Search Foundation (OSF), the Southern Highland’s Provincial Government, the Emergency Controller’s Office withthe PNG Defence Force, the International Organisation for Migration, UNICEF and World Vision.

Along with the shortage of food, and high incidence of malaria,these partnersidentified unsafe water and poor hygiene and food security as the most pressing issues. Villagers also lacked adequate tools with which to rebuild their homes.

So what have they done together to solvethese problems?

The short answer is simply: “a lot”. Working in partnership, under the leadership and direction of government and the community over the past five months, these organisations have:

  • dispatched a team of health professionals to conduct health assessments and deliver basic health services.

  • installed four 9,000-litre water tanks, constructed four rainwater catchments and repaired eight pit latrines and implemented a community WASH program

  • distributed food rations, plus nutritional supplements for pregnant mothers and children

  • provided temporary shelter kits and proper building tools, along with solar lights and female hygiene kits

  • conducted awareness campaigns on hygiene, family planning malaria HIV and TB prevention

  • carried out a geological assessment to ensure that Edela is safe and stable.

And they are just getting started. Over the coming months, the partners will team up with other organisations such as the National Agricultural Research Institute (NRI) and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock to see what can be done to get the village economy back on track, and give residents more of an opportunity to generate their own income. They also plan to help restore Yalanda’s classrooms and foot bridge, and rebuild a road to Endela.

“It has been great team work by all partners,” says OSF’s Eileen Tugum. “The job isn’t done but everyone has worked hard under the community’s own leadership to achieve such positive outcome.”