The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Success in Bitokara, Papua New Guinea

World Day of the Poor 2021 Logo

By Phil Brass, Programmes Team, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (November 2021)

In our work to overcome poverty Caritas has times of challenge but also times of joy and celebration. One of those moments of joy came recently when a Caritas project in Bitokara, Papua New Guinea, over the past three years has delivered results exceeding expectations. Our three-year project (concluding in June 2021) delivered a total of 160 Rainwater Harvesting Structures and toilets across eight communities in the area.

In a time of increasing challenge for the international development aid sector, we see it as more important than ever to celebrate stories of success. This project is one such story.  

With the partnership of the community within which we work, and the dedication of all those involved, we have managed to deliver a project that is not only more successful than predicted, but also more crucial than ever due to the increased need for adequate sanitation due to the pandemic. 

For vulnerable communities, lack of access to adequate water and sanitation exacerbates the impact of the pandemic by making hygiene difficult and increasing exposure risk where people need to travel long distances to access water and sanitation. Safe water and sanitation reduces the risk of waterborne diseases, keeping communities healthier and reducing strain on already stretched health resources. Providing reliable, sustainable water and sanitation to these communities could not come at a more crucial time.  

Women and girls are particularly affected by lack of adequate water and sanitation. Collecting water is often a female task, so long trips to fetch water can expose women and girls to violence and other risks. Women involved with this project reported that the improved infrastructure meant that they now had more time to spend with family, working to earn income, doing chores, and attending church. As a flow on impact, improved water and sanitation supports community social, mental, and spiritual wellbeing – something many of us have found challenging during the pandemic. 

Continuing this work over the past three years has enabled Caritas to provide infrastructure that is more needed than ever before, improving the wellbeing of those most in need during the pandemic.  

This project shows how when we apply principles of Catholic Social Teaching, we can help more. By putting those most in need at the centre of our work, we can strengthen the whole community. The Bitokara programme has now concluded.  The new focus in PNG will now be in supporting Caritas PNG develop programme activities in four new locations: , two in the highlands, two in coastal areas. 

There will be a number of activities that replicate the work done in Bitokara although at a scale that suits the local population. These projects run for 4.5 years starting Jan 2022.  All funds CANZ receives for He Oranga Taurikura work in PNG will be matched 75/25 by the NZ Aid programme.  You can help by: 


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