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Friday, 16 February

06:00

How should peace be measured in Papua New Guinea? Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

For most of us our raison detre for seeking to understand violence is the need for peace. If we understand violence then we can reduce it and thereby have peace. For many people working on the frontlines, it is not a career choice but a labour of love and life often unpaid or involving great sacrifice. PNG women like Dame Carol Kidu, the late Josepha Kiris, Ume Wainetti and many others have paved the way for legal reform, national action and policies like the recently approved National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence and the Sorcery National Action Plan. National actors, in partnership with development partners, have also been instrumental in paving the way for the emergence of new initiatives like the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee, PNGs first case management service Femili PNG, and much needed counselling services. Through these and other initiatives such as work in the Law and Justice sector, the next generation of actors are also being trained.

I proceed with deference to this extraordinary body of knowledge generated by scholars, national actors, and development partners leading action to reduce violence in PNG. This work unequivocally informs us that violence in PNG is multilayered, gendered, involves multiple actors, and is fast changing. It also counsels that there are no silver bullets, that our responses need to be multifaceted but may also have unintended consequences that may exacerbate violence.

Media narratives, often sensationalised and essentialised for Western audiences, mask the breathtaking diversity, breadth and the depth of issues that the term violence in PNG canvases.

For example, media reports that cite the statistic 2/3 of PNG women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime pain...

05:30

Fortnightly links: compassion fatigue, modern contraception, gender equality, and more Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Nancy Birdsall writes for the Center for Global Development on modern contraception and womens empowerment in the developing world.

Rohi Joan Halifax shares some words of wisdom on the problem of compassion fatigue, or empathetic distress.

Without urgent action, big and open data may widen existing inequalities, says Sabina Leonelli.

Does gender inequality stem from economic or cultural factors? Seema Jayachandran covers the statistical evidence in a reader-friendly way.

When will the number of children on our planet stop growing? Max Rosser looks at the demographic evidence and projections.

Japans first lady, Akie Abe, talks about advancing gender equality and Japans experience.

The post Fortnightly links: compassion fatigue, modern contraception, gender equality, and more appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.

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Thursday, 15 February

09:40

VETERAN SCHOOLED BY A ROOKIE PNGBLOGS

SO BASIL CLAIMS I'M A LIAR?

by BRYAN KRAMER

Today the Post Courier published a front page story under the headline "Uproar in the House."

The article was in relation to Member of Wau Bulolo and Minister of Communications & Energy Sam Basil's statement (personal explanation) on the floor of Parliament following question time yesterday. Basil's statement was in response to my article published on Facebook in relation to the recent defection of the Member of Wosera-Gawi Open from Opposition to O'Neill Government.

An article authored by reporter Jeffrey Elapa, which I'm of the view was biased confirmed by the fact the reporter made no attempt to get my comment to balance the story.

The central theme of the article and Basil's statement were expressed in the following terms:

1) Basil: the comments labeling me as dumb and a stupid member of Parliament, I felt obliged and convicted to stand up and speak as Mr Kramers comments are unacceptable and unbecoming of a national leader.

My Response:

So did I state in precise and expressed terms Sam Basil is dump and stupid?

No, not once in my article did I state as much.

Both words where stated twice as follows:

"It seems the offer by O'Neill to Basil was a lie. The only question was whether one was (1) dumb enough to believe it. I explained to Basil only an idiot would believe O'Neill would honour his word. It seems in PNG Politics we don't have a shortage of (1) stupid people."

"In the end Pangu only received one Ministry. Basil may go down in PNG Political History as one of the (2) dumbest Political Party Leaders for taking 16 Members across the floor on the promise of four Ministry portfolios in Cabinet and only receive one. On the same token Yopyyopy himself stated O'Neill promised him six projects and delivered none."

The first asks the question whether "one" is dumb enough - it does not state Sam Basil is.

The second states he "may" go down in PNG Political History as one of the dumbest Political Party Leaders. The word "may" is not a statement of fact but expressing a view (opinion). - a view that may be considered fair comment - which is a legal defense to derogatory or defamatory statement.

2) Basil: I was accused by Kramer alleging that I met with the MP for Wosera-Gawi, Joseph Yopyyopy, and enticed him to move to the gover...

06:00

Mining for Development Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

The 2014 DFAT evaluation of the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC) contains a succinct and valuable summary of the rationale for the overall Mining for Development (M4D) initiative.

It said inter alia working in the mining sector was a new experience for the Australian aid program. This is quite extraordinary given the strengths of the Australian mining management regime and the evident needs of so many developing countries for improved performance in that area.

The evaluation also said:

to support developing countries to maximise the economic benefits from their extractives sector in a socially and environmentally sustainable waywas logical and consistent with the Australian Governments commitment to making progress towards the MDGs. The Australian Government recognised that the mining sector had considerable potential to help reduce poverty, accelerate human development and economic growth.

It is hard to believe that it took the aid administration in Australia until 2007 to work this out! The creation of wealth has always been a necessary, although not a sufficient, condition of the sustainable elimination of poverty.

This recognition was not an accident or a coincidence. It arose from repeated requests from African Ministers to me during my time as Parliamentary Secretary and subsequently as the PMs Special Envoy.

My initial brief was to talk to Ministers about our plans to assist in areas such as maternal health and water and sanitation. These were well received, but I was consistently asked: What about mining?

The governments did not want or need assistance with attracting investment. What they wanted was assistance with the regulation of mining. They recognised that Australia is rare among donor countries in having a large and well regulated mining industry and a high level of expertise in education and training related to the mining industry.

Requests varied in detail but were remarkably consistent. Governments in Africa wanted assistance with managing the granting of leases, environmental regulation, occupational health and safety issues, taxation, and fiscal issues.

It was also apparent that the impression of Australia in many of the countries I visited was substantially influenced by the behaviour of our mining companies. They are the main things many people see that is understood to be Australian. This carries reputational risk as well as benefits. Assisting with effective regulation of the industry will be, and be seen to be, an important counter-balance to the risks and an addition to the benefits.

It is also possible we would have been able, over time, to leverage some of the corporate social responsibility investments of the Austr...

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Wednesday, 14 February

06:00

Fiji Womens Crisis Centre wins 2018 Mitchell Humanitarian Award Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

The 2018 Mitchell Humanitarian Award was presented to the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre in a ceremony at The Australian National University on Tuesday night (13 February).

The Mitchell Humanitarian Award is an annual award that recognises individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of international development and who have been supported by Australian aid.

The Fiji Womens Crisis Centre (FWCC) was established in Suva, Fiji, in 1984. Since then, it has provided crisis counselling and legal, medical and other practical support services for women and children who are survivors of violence. Its awareness raising and advocacy is widely recognized as having been path-breaking, and it has played a pivotal role in both Fiji and the broader Pacific region, spawning similar organisations in other countries, and resulting in changes not only in laws and policies but also in attitudes. The FWCC started receiving support from the Australian aid program in 1990; that support continues to this day.

Ms Shamima Ali is the Coordinator of the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre. Receiving the award on behalf of FWCC, she said:

This reward is a reflection of how ongoing multiyear funding over nearly three decades has enabled the FWCC to consistently challenge a society where patriarchal norms, attitudes and behaviour continue to violate womens human rights in every sphere of society.

We have been able to build best practice and roll it out throughout the Pacific and support members of the Pacific Womens Network against Violence against Women.

Professor Stephen Howes, Director of ANU Development Policy Centre, which administers the award, commented:

FWCCs success is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by a dedicated group able to access long-term support from the Australian aid program.

The Mitchell Humanitarian Award is named after Mr Harold Mitchell AC, a leading Australian businessperson and international philanthropist. A distinguished selection panel choose the awardee. The panel is chaired by Ms Stephanie Copus-Campbell, Executive Director with the Oil Search Foundation, and includes Ms Jo Chandler, award-winning journalist, and Mr Bob McMullan, former Parliamentary Secretary for International Development.

Others shortlisted for the award this year include: Mr Fessehaie Abraham, a refugee from Eritrea who mobilised the Australian community to provide support to his country; Ms Gillian Mellsop, a senior manager with the Australian aid program who went on to lead numerous UNICEF country offices; Dr Gabrielle Persley, an Australian bioscientist who was involved in the...

05:30

The wrong way to close a funding gap: anti-corruption and the 2018 PNG budget Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Last year we compared ten years of budgetary allocations and spending on PNGs anti-corruption agencies. We found significant and growing gaps between what the PNG government promised to anti-corruption agencies and what they actually received. In this blog we draw upon updated analysis, including the recently released 2018 budget figures, to show how the states anti-corruption agencies have fared under Treasurer Charles Abels first budget.

Our analysis focuses on five key anti-corruption agencies: the Ombudsman Commission, the National Fraud and Anti-corruption Directorate, Taskforce Sweep (and its replacement: the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption), the Auditor-Generals Office, and the Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit (also known as the Financial Intelligence Unit).

Overall, spending on the five anti-corruption organisations was essentially the same between 2015 and 2016 adjusting for inflation, the government spent almost 45 million kina (or 17.7 million AUD) on these organisations in each year (see Figure 1). However, amidst broader budget cuts, future spending on these organisations is set to fall to below 38 million kina by 2018. Steady spending, along with shrinking budgets means that the gap between promises and reality has almost closed (though of course actuals may fall further). Thats one, although certainly not the best, way to reduce a funding gap.

Figure 1: Total anti-corruption spending for five anti-corruption agencies (2017 prices)

As we demonstrate, all five organisations except for the Ombudsman Commission have had their budgets cut between 2017 and 2018. The Nation...

Tuesday, 13 February

06:00

Memo to DFAT: fund vaccines Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

In 2017, DFAT announced $75 million funding for development of new drugs and diagnostics for TB and malaria (Product Development Partnership (PDP) Fund 2018-2022).

A troubling feature of the announcement was DFATs failure to commit funding to vaccine research and development (R&D). Why support diagnostics and therapeutics, but not vaccines?

Vaccines are without doubt the most powerful public health tool for disease eradication. No major human infectious disease has been eradicated without a vaccine against it. Every year, vaccines avert three million deaths. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox and enabled a 99% reduction in polio incidence globally, and have dramatically reduced infant mortality.

The failure to invest in new vaccines for TB and malaria is inconsistent with other aspects of DFATs new Health Security Initiative. Vaccine research is not entirely off the DFAT agenda. The website for the Indo-Pacific Health Security Initiative states that there will be new DFAT support for vaccine R&D. But DFAT has clarified that this reference does not apply to products supported through the Product Development Partnerships (PDP) Fund, but instead relates to rapid vaccine development as part of the international response to a disease outbreak. So DFAT will fund rapid research into vaccines for new disease threats, but not for fighting the more deadly epidemics that we have been battling for centuries.

So why is DFAT shutting the door on funding vaccine research for well-established diseases such as TB and malaria, the infectious killers that impose the highest disease burdens? In December, DFAT published the evaluation of the PDP Program 2013-2018 and its response. These documents shed light on DFATs thinking.

The evaluation notes that AusAID included vaccines in its initial PDP grants, through funding Aeras, a TB vacc...

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