By: Peter Murorera

Port Moresby - Hela is one of Papua New Guinea’s provinces that has a variety of natural resources including natural gas, and vast forests.

Most of the local population live in rural areas and several face challenges related to accessing basic services such as healthcare. Accessing basic services is at times hindered by violence and tribal fighting in local communities.

Through working in partnership with the Hela Provincial Government, United Nations agencies, and partners, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is promoting peace and development in Guala community in Hela province.

Guala was in the past affected by tribal conflicts and is now working towards sustainable peace. The community has a facility that looks after people displaced by conflict and gender-based violence.

The Guala community are working together to implement their Community Peace for Development Plan (CPDP). The CPDP is a live document that brings together women, men, and youth to tackle issues they face.

Guala community members welcoming solar lighting kits from IOM © Thomas Mek/IOM Papua New Guinea

The CPDP was developed with the assistance of local authorities, IOM, and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UN PBF). The CPDP plan empowers the community to sustain peace and advance sustainable development through a bottom-up approach.

The women, men, youth, and children in Guala listed various interventions for implementation while developing their plan. The interventions include improving lighting around the community, especially in strategic locations which will significantly improve the safety of women and girls, in particular.

IOM funded by UN PBF responded to this need, supplying the community with solar lighting kits that will be installed at the healthcare facility, primary school, and church. The church has hosted the transit facility that helps displaced persons seeking refuge in Guala.

The community healthcare facility, Guala Sub Health Centre lacked lighting after its generator broke down a few years. Healthcare staff had to resort to using candles and battery powered torches when working at night.

“I felt unsafe and would get stressed while working at night because we had no lighting here. Failing to respond to patients would make us get blamed or harassed by the patients’ relatives. We improvised and used candles and torches when responding to emergency and deliveries at night,” highlighted Nolin Kenowa, of Guala Sub Health Centre.

“These solar kits are a tremendous help to us and the patients. I feel safe and relieved, and can better perform my duties,” she added.

Churches have been on the forefront in peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts in Hela province. The solar lighting kits that IOM provided will also be installed at the Christian Brethren Church. The leadership at CBC provided the venue that was used for CPDP planning sessions and also provided inputs to the plan.

Monica Ipanda, a women leader from Guala welcomed the assistance saying, “This assistance will enable women to continue with our sewing at night,” she said. “Women from neighboring villages that are affected by violence receive skills training in sewing and baking while taking refuge here,” added Monica.  Councillor for Guala Gunu Ward 1, Ismael Uriliwa also welcomed the assistance.

Funded by UN PBF, IOM’s CPDP interventions are promoting peace in the target communities and directly benefiting at least 29,790 people across 12 communities in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.

For further information, please contact at IOM Port Moresby, Getachew Mekuria, Tel: +675 4 3213655 Email: or Peter Murorera, Tel: +675 321 36 55, Email:  

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions