Papua New Guinea Overview
Papua New Guinea (PNG; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands (the western portion of the island is a part of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua). It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. The capital is Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries on Earth. According to recent data, 841 different languages are listed for the country, although 11 of these have no known living speakers. . (A detailed series of language maps of Papua New Guinea may be found at Ethnologue)There may be at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of about 6.2 million. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18% of its people live in urban centres. The country is one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea.
Strong growth in the mining and resource sector has led to PNG becoming the the 7th fastest-growing economy in the world as at 2011.Despite this, the majority of the population still live in traditional societies and practise subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation's constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution expresses the wish for "traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society", and for active steps to be taken in their preservation.
After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975. It remains a Commonwealth realm of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea. Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than US$1.25 per day. Souce: Wikipedia.org
Overview of Indicators
This section is intended as a guide to the indicators chosen for these profiles. Itprovides a description of the significance of each indicator and what it tells us about the status of development in each of the districts and provinces.
Administration and Governance
The profiles in each district and province begin with administrative information on the numbers of wards and local-level governments as well as the headquarters for each province or district. In Papua New Guinea, the administrative boundaries are coextensive with electoral boundaries. This is a useful situation when it comes to these
profiles, as it is possible to look at political representation directly alongside the development indicators for each unit of government and administration. However, there are also problems associated with having the administrative boundaries linked to electoral boundaries. Administrative boundaries can often be long-standing and rooted
in history, while electoral boundaries need to respond to changing demographics. For instance, electoral boundaries should cover approximately equal population units, so that representation is reasonably equal across the country. This is especially important because PNG has single-member districts, that is, only one Member of Parliament
represents each district. In reality, this is not the case. Across the country, there is no uniformity on the size (in terms of population) of local-level, district and provincial government jurisdictions. The vested interests in the ‘status quo’ have also made it very difficult for the Electoral Boundaries Commission to successfully change electoral
boundaries to bring them more in-line with the demographic characteristics of the country. One challenge in PNG is to get a definitive list of administrative units because the National Statistical Office, the National Mapping Bureau and the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs (DPLGA) all have slightly different lists, especially at the local-level government and ward levels. A careful reader will notice that often the district and provincial maps, supplied by the National Mapping Bureau, and the listing of local-level governments, supplied by the DPLGA differ in many districts. This will continue to frustrate any department involved in the collection of statistics until there is some resolution of administrative units, and their names and boundaries, at the national level. The profiles also give some basic information on the political representation within each province and district, by individual and by political party in the period since 2002. This section could be expanded in the future to develop a longer term picture of political
governance in each of the districts and provinces.
Population Data and Indicators by Age and Sex
Population data are disaggregated in each profile by sex and age. This is done for a number of reasons. For example, it is important to know the distribution of population by sex and age: (1) To determine the size of the working age population in relation to that of the children and the elderly (this can help you to assess the degree of dependency in the population); (2) To determine the proportion of females or males in each age group
4 so that planning for facilities and services such as those for health and education is facilitated (e.g. health facilities and services are targeted towards children and females in maternal ages); (3) To have adequate information on the number and sex of the population when deciding on policies and plans that are geared towards gender
equality, equity and empowerment; and (4) To know the size and sex of the working age population in relationship to female and male employment or unemployment differences.
Population density measures the number of persons per square kilometre in a given area (e.g. district, province, country). Care should be taken in interpreting population density as a measure of population distribution. Other geographic factors that effect population distribution, such as deserts, mountains, and forests, should be taken into
consideration. In these profiles, the density is given per total land area in the district and per occupied land area in the district, to capture this difference and to take into account uninhabitable areas. This shows whether the area is thickly or sparsely populated, and reflects the implication of this on the provision of facilities such as schools and health centres as well as the provision of services for health, education, banking and essential commodities. A more meaningful measure of population distribution, in this respect, is population per arable land or population per agricultural land, which could be included in future profiles.
The rate of population growth in the same area would indicate the nature of population change taking place, whether the rate of natural increase is high or low in the area, whether people are moving out of the area, or whether apart from the natural rate of increase, people are moving into the area because of different opportunities, especially
those related to economic activities and availability of services.
Electoral participation is an indicator of the extent to which citizens can freely participate in the processes and institutions of democracy. Typically, high levels of participation can be used to indicate the legitimacy of elected officials and the regimes to which they belong. In Papua New Guinea, indicators of electoral participation also give information about the extent to which the electoral process has been impacted by electoral fraud, which has been prevalent, and some would say is growing, in National General Elections. Voter turnout is usually expressed as the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. In this profile we have used the ‘number of votes cast’ in the 2002 and 2007 elections. This figure represents to the total of formal and informal votes recorded in the counting process. We note that the law does allow some ballots to be excluded from the count if electoral fraud can be demonstrated; therefore in a small number of cases these figures may not represent the total number of eligible voters who cast a ballot in the relevant elections.
In addition, and in the provincial profiles only, the numbers of names on the electoral roll for 2002 and 2007 have been provided. This district level data was not available at the time of printing. Where the numbers of votes cast or numbers of names on the roll are substantially higher than the number of eligible voters, it reveals that the results for these elections have been artificially impacted by instances of multiple voting or of ballots being cast by ‘ghost’ voters, who have benefited from an inaccurate and inflated roll. Where figures are lower than the number of eligible voters, this could be indicative of a number of factors including the deliberate disenfranchisement of groups of voters, the existence of some geographic or other barrier that is preventing citizens from freely participating, or even that some groups of voters may be deliberately boycotting elections. These indicators also develop a picture of the effectiveness of initiatives to curb electoral fraud and ensure free and fair elections. For instance, an entirely new electoral roll was developed in 2006, which was intended to eliminate or reduce the numbers of ‘ghost’ voters who were voting in elections. In theory, this new roll should have brought voter participation more in-line with the eligible voting population, as the 2002 Electoral Roll, with 5.3 million names, was substantially inflated. In the districts of Simbu Province, the over-participation of voters in 2002 was pronounced, with numbers of votes cast totalling more than double the number of eligible voters, in some instances. This has been substantially reduced in the roll used
in the 2007 Elections and is now more in-line with numbers of eligible voters. By contrast, in Western Highlands Province, specifically in Mt. Hagen, it is clear that the preregistration process was less successful. The number of votes cast is well above the number of eligible voters. At the other end of the scale, in the Autonomous Region of
Bougainville, the number of votes cast was well below the number of eligible voters in
both 2002 and 2007. In addition, because growth rates in PNG are unreliable, we have instead presented the figures for eligible voters in the 2000 census along side the numbers of votes cast in the 2002 and 2007 National General Elections. The average national annual growth rate of2.7 % would need to be applied to get an estimated idea of eligible voters in 2002 and 2007.
Type and Number of Schools
Each district and provincial profile shows the number of schools in each level of education, by province and by district, in order to ascertain if there is an adequate supply of space to meet the demand for education. Access and enrolment data seem to suggest that one of the critical factors for the increased number of school-aged children being out of school is the lack of schools. There is an obvious critical shortage of space in all provinces and districts.
Net Admission Rate: Students’ Access to Education
In Papua New Guinea, access to the first level of education is measured in terms of the
proportion of six year old children admitted to elementary prep relative to the population
of six year olds, and this measure is described as the net admission rate. The net admission rate is a useful indicator because it tells us not only the number of students with access to Elementary Prep, but more importantly, the number of students being denied access. The data presented show that East Sepik Province has the lowest
net admission rate (2.8%) while Central Province has the highest net admission rate (32.7%). In terms of districts, data show that Wosera-Gawi has the lowest net admission rate (0.1%), while Kundiawa has the highest net admission rate (49.4%). Generally, the net admission rates for the provinces and the districts show that a large
proportion of children in the population of six year olds do not have access to the first year of formal education. This is caused by the lack of space and qualified teachers, the inability of parents to pay school fees, high incidences of repetition, and the enrolment of over-aged children, amongst other factors.
Enrolment Rates: Students’ Participation in Education
Enrolment rates are used to measure students’ participation in education as well as help us to identify the number of children enrolled in education as a proportion of the population of related school age. The gross and the net enrolment rates are often used to measure students’ participation in education. The gross enrolment rate has been used here because it helps us to know the exact number of children, regardless of age, who are enrolled from Elementary Prep to Grade 8 and, most importantly, those who are not enrolled. The enrolment data presented here
show that the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has the highest gross enrolment rate (109.5%) while Southern Highlands has the lowest gross enrolment rate (51.7%). In terms of the districts, Central Bougainville has the highest gross enrolment rate (130.8%) while Tari has the lowest gross enrolment rate (2.3%). The figures for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Central Bougainville suggest that student enrolment in basic education is very high. However, these enrolment rates provide an illusion of high enrolment in basic education. This high enrolment is caused by factors such as the enrolment of a large number of students who are outside the population of
related school age (6-14 years of age). The net enrolment rate has been used to measure students’ participation in basic education because firstly, it helps us to know the actual number of pupils in the population of related school age (6-14 year olds) who are in school and, most importantly, those who are not in school. Secondly, it is a good indicator for measuring province’s and districts’ status of progress toward the attainment of the goal of Universal
Basic Education. The enrolment data presented indicate that Milne Bay Province has the highest net enrolment rate (69.2%) while Oro Province has the lowest net enrolment rate (38.4%). In terms of districts, Ialibu-Pangia has the highest net enrolment rate (82.4%) while Nipa-Kutubu has the lowest net enrolment rate (25.1%). The data seem
to suggest that Milne Bay Province and Ialibu-Pangia District are making good progress towards the attainment of the goal of Universal Basic Education.
Infant and Child Mortality
Health indicators are usually listed as some of the most important social indicators because they reflect whether a national or local government is making progress in improving the living conditions of its people.
The infant mortality rate relates to the environment in which infants are born, how their mothers are taken care of before and after child-birth, and the cultural practices determining how early the infants are exposed to liquids and foods other than their mothers breast milk. In childhood, in relationship to the child mortality rate, the risks to
children are extended through the weaning practices and the nutritional quality of food they are given, the shelter in which they are kept, and the hygienic conditions in which they live, as well as prevailing parasitic diseases such as malaria, and communicable diseases such as measles. All this is summed up by the under five child mortality rate
which combines all the conditions together. Where the rates are high, the living conditions and service provision are relatively poor compared to where the rates are low.
With regard to indicators such as life expectancy at birth, it is useful to provide them by sex because they reflect biological, health and socioeconomic differences between women and men. For example, it is universally known that women survive longer than men, sometimes by more than two or three years. This margin of differences is a reflection of a special biological advantage which is sometimes increased by the hazardous occupations in which men engage as compared to women, or even be reversed because of the sociocultural conditions in which women in some societies live, that is when they are exposed to violence, hard labour, limited access to health and education facilities and services, poor nutrition, lower status for girls than for boys, limited participation in decisionmaking, and other factors. Overall, life expectancy (or average number of years lived from birth in a particular area) summarizes the mortality conditions and provides an embracing indicator of how health and living conditions in a particular area compare with those in another area. Where life expectancy is higher, the conditions are better than where it is lower.
Hence, during distribution of services, facilities and development opportunities, more chances should be given to relatively underprivileged or underserved areas than those which are better served. Population per Health Officer and Health Facility The indicators of population per medical officer, population per nursing officer, population per Aid Post, and population per Health Centre reveal the gaps that exist in the provision of health services in PNG. Hence, during distribution of services, facilities and development opportunities, more emphasis should be given to relatively
underprivileged or underserved areas than those which are better served. Such gaps affect the delivery of services such as those related to maternal health, and infant and child immunization programs, and facilitates policymaking and planning for
The economic activity in a province or district encompasses all activities whereby an individual or company earns awage or income from selling goods or services. This section in each of the provincial and district profiles focuses on agricultural activities at a household level because the majority of Papua New Guinea’s population, particularly in rural areas, participates in the cash economy through agriculture. The census data presented in the provincial and district profiles shows the top five agricultural activities in the province or district in 2000, ranked by the proportion of
citizen households that engaged in these activities. Also shown is the proportion of households that earned cash income from these same activities. These figures give an indication of the importance of the different crops as a source of food and as a source of income. If there is a dominant crop (one that a much higher percentage of households grow than other crops) this suggests there is little crop diversification. Heavy reliance on a single type of crop, particularly if it is also the main source of income, can mean the effects of a crop failure or a problem with disease or pests (such as the cocoa pod borer) could be disastrous. Where the figures show that a high proportion of households are engaged in agricultural activities for cash, this can indicate there are few other sources of income. People in these districts and provinces are likely to be more vulnerable to the effects of floods, droughts, crop failures and agricultural commodity price fluctuations. What these figures don’t show is the volume or value of the crops produced or the relative importance of these crops compared to other food and income sources. In future editions, other measures of economic activity such as average income, formal employment levels, tax revenue or GDP could be considered to give a more holistic picture of the economic activity within the provinces and districts.
The infrastructure in a province or district refers to the network of facilities that supportsthe community in meeting its economic and social needs. This includes roads, ports, wharves, airstrips, communications and energy distribution networks, and water and waste management systems. Infrastructure is important to connect communities to basic services such as health and education, to improve social cohesion and to facilitate access to markets for participation in economic activities. The level of infrastructure within a province or district can affect both whether a community’s needs are met, and the efficiency and effectiveness in which they are met. In the district profiles, because of constraints in accessing data within the time available to prepare this report, this section is limited to a general description of road networks and access to services. This information has been sourced from the Rural Development
Handbook (2001). In future editions, it is hoped that the data can be expanded to
capture additional types of infrastructure. In the provincial profiles, the proportion of the population living within five kilometres of a national road and the number of electricity customers has been included in addition to
the general description of roads and access to services.
The data have been sourced from Food and Agriculture in PNG (2009). In reading the figures for proportion of the population living within five kilometres of a national road, it is important to note that only national roads have been considered, the condition of the roads is not taken into account and the terrain is not factored in as the five kilometres distance is measured in a straight line. However, these figures do provide some indication of a community’s access to services and markets. The distance people have to travel to reach major roads and service centres is an indication of how easy it is for them to access basic services such as health and education. It also signals their ability to participate in economic activities through their access to financial services and markets to buy and/or sell produce. Road networks also enable others to access the community, including delivery of government services, distribution of goods and services, and tourism. The number of electricity customers has been included as an indication of the accessibility of electricity within the provinces. It is acknowledged that this is a crude measure and that the number of customers could reflect the demand for electricity as well as the supply. Access to electricity can improve well-being as it leads to better health care and education services, creates employment opportunities and frees up time for more economically productive (income-earning) opportunities.
Information sourced from: National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea
Important downloadable documents
PNG Vision 2050
Papua New Guinea has 21 provinces. Each province has provincial goverment.
Access the details of each province here >