|Avengu village, picturesque and remote.|
Avengu village sits ridge nestled amongst the giants of the Sarawaged. The people are cut off from their district headquarters in Gagidu. There is no road access. The nearest government station is in Pindiu is a two day walk from Avengu. The people grow coffee and little else in terms of cash crops.
The coffee trees are tall. They have not been pruned for a long while. But when harvest time comes, up to 20 people each carrying 50 kilogram bags make the two day journey to Pindiu to sell the coffee.
|Theo Zurenuoc - Service delivery eats up 70 percent of our budget|
|A two day walk to Pindiu|
“If we have a million kina to spend, K700,000 will be spent on transportation and other costs and we’d be left with just K300,000 for actual services,” says Finchafen MP, Theo Zurenuoc.
Zurenuoc walked the rugged mountains where the villages are located. He is one of a new breed of PNG politicians who have tried to stay connected to their place of origin. In one of his many trips during the wet season, the people reported up to five deaths. All of them were failed rescues or failed attempts to cross flooded rivers.
The Avengu people now have a foot bridge. This is where government funding is being channeled. But to build the bridge , the people made a five hour trek, through thick jungle, to carry the metal parts from Lembati airstrip, in the neighboring village, to the site. The bridge cost 30 thousand kina. But the cost of service delivery added up to nearly K70,000. It’s the same in most mountainous districts all over Papau New Guinea. As in many other rural locations, there is an ever present plague of high infant and maternal deaths.
Lisa Ivil, a primary school teacher has seen women and children die every year. “Every year, we see five deaths,” she tells me.
“It’s alarming. But what can we do?”