Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Community Where We Will Build


East Sepik Affiliate is one of the newest and exciting affiliate established by Habitat for Humanity Papua New Guinea in June 2003 in partnership with rural leaders of two piloted projects namely, Apangai Building Community in the Maprik District and Nindibari Building Community in the Yangoru Sausia District.

This team will be going to the Nindibari Community.

The targeted project area for Sepik Affiliate is consisted of two provincial areas, which are East Sepik Province with its town Wewak and Sandaun Province, formerly West Sepik with its town Vanimo.

East Sepik Affiliate shares its borders on the land with Madang Province, Southern Highlands Province, Western Province and the Irian Jaya - Papua province of Indonesia and in the sea with Manus Province and Irian Jaya.

About Sepik Provinces
Sepik is featured to many for its many landmarks like the famous mighty Sepik River, the famous Haus Tambaran, the Wom War Memorial Beach, the Mission Hill, and the Boram, Meni & Windjammer Beaches. Sepik is also the home to the country’s founding father and current Prime Minister Hon Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

For religion, Sepik is the birthplace for the Evangelical Brethren Church and the Assembly of God Church in Papua New Guinea. The province itself is rich with sceneries, cultures and traditions and histories that are second to none.

Housing Needs in Sepik Provinces
The most important reason to start Sepik Habitat for Humanity is to improve on the current quality of housing. Up to now, people have been building and living in bush material houses. Only a few people have built permanent or semi-permanent houses. On average, most houses have to be replaced every five (5) years. Common bush materials used for building houses like limbung (wild palm), sago leaves and palms and bamboo, from all selected new forest growth is getting lesser and lesser as time passes.

Improved housing will address urgent needs and/or problems, like:

  • Urgent need of land for gardening and for cash cropping because of rapid increase of human population over the years. More and more forests are being cut to make way for new gardens and plantations which is directly contributing to scarcity of forest resulted in.

  • Low quality unprocessed bush materials that last no more than five 5 (years).

  • Conflicts between members of the clan and/or family groups over building materials and land for gardening.

  • Forest for wildlife and in other importance such as medicine, traditional dressing, food, etc… is depleting rapidly.\

  • Sicknesses like diarrhea and malaria and skin diseases like scabies and grille occur because people are consuming contaminated water thru cooking, drinking, bathing and laundry.

  • Curable common respiratory diseases like asthma and TB are resulted from inadequate and over crowding housing.

  • Urban drift started well before PNG gain its independence. Village people have migrated to other provinces as government and private sector contracted laborers. Even still today there is overwhelming evidence throughout the country that the drift of village people to the towns will continue despite measures the government may take to arrest it. This rural housing concept a rural development as an end in itself because it will help improve the wellbeing and the standard of living of the great mass of people, but it also hopes–perhaps optimistically–that this housing program and associated measures in rural areas will reduce the rate at which the drift to town takes place. The housing program will also encourage Sepik citizens now living as settlers in other provinces to return to the village.


A Building Community is a local organization that agrees to follow Habitat for Humanity’s policies and principles in the operation of a house-building program in their community. The building community handles both the construction and administration of the local program Builing Build.

Other main functions of a Building Community would be, community education and awareness, homeowner training and nurturing, family selection, site selection, tree selection and saw milling, resource development or fundraising, house building and supervision, program budgeting, program reporting, program planning, monitoring and evaluation.

Sepik Region is the home of the famous haus tambaran, carving, arts, dancing, yam worship and ceremonial feast. The day-to-day living is subjected to the many believes they associated with their culture and the environment.

Nindibari Building Community Description

Nindibari Building Community is located in the West Yangoru sub-district north west of East Sepik Province. The name “Nindibari” derives from Nindipole and Nambari villages, the initiators of the program. The program has drawn over-whelming interest from other eight nearby villages now constitutes the program. The other eight villages are, Yarombueng, Kuaian, Holik, Numboruong, Alisu, Himbru, Winge, Suanumbu, Wanigu, Witipe, and Winguong.

The Nindibari Community is consisting of sixteen major clans with the population of about one thousand seven hundred (1700) men and women including children. People are evidently living in clan or family groups.

DUO language is spoken as the mother tongue for the people of Nindibari. Apart from Duo language, Pidgin and English, is also spoken and heard by many. Pidgin is regarded as the second spoken language.

There are a total of six schools in the whole of West Yangoru sub district. Five upper primary schools with their yearly intake from grade three to eight. The sixth school is Yangoru high school accommodating grade seven to ten. The high school has plans to enrol grade eleven and twelve by next year 2004. Parents at Nindibari enrols their children in the following schools,

1. St Thomas Upper Primary School
2. Wara Bung Upper Primary School
3. Yangoru AOG Upper Primary School
4. Yangoru Secondary High School.

The above four schools are walking distance from Nindibari. Literacy is averaging at 75%, which means that many people can speak and read English well.

The people are Christian with two major local churches being traditionally Catholic and Assembly of God in the whole of Yangoru. However, there is evidence of other denominations in the community.

Two established health centres are providing health services to the people of Nindibari and whole of West Yangoru. One is a government run and the Seventh Day Adventist runs the other. The common types of sickness affecting many are respiratory problems including asthma and T.B. Malaria is common and is caused by mosquitoes especially during the rainy seasons. Skin problems are common.


Yams, sago, taro and banana are the staple food but rice is becoming the staple food as more and more families grow or buy rice. Protein is in short supply and therefore demand for meat and other protein is very high. Although pigs and chickens can be raised and sold in thousands, the costs of looking after them are considered very high. Lack of adequate protein in diets also contributes to some of the diseases experienced not only in Apangai and Nindibari but also through out the Central Sepik area as a whole.

The water sources for daily consumption are from small creeks, tanks, and bore hole. During rainy season the creeks and borehole can become dangerous to consumption due to floods.

Like elsewhere in PNG, the people are primarily subsistence farmers selling their produce at Markets in Wewak, Maprik, along the highway and within the community. The principal cash crops are: rice, coffee, cocoa and lately, vanilla. Before the introduction of vanilla, rice, coffee and cocoa were the major cash crops with coffee being the biggest contributor to the local economy.

Generally speaking, when prices for these commodities are good people receive better and higher income. When prices are low, people do not earn much from the sale of their cash crops. With introduction of vanilla as a cash crop and currently offering good prices from outside buyers of vanilla beans, the average income for families and individuals in the villages have improved. Average income is therefore, estimated at around 1, 200 –6, 000 Kina per year.

The Apangai and Nindibari Habitat Project sites are easily accessible by road. The projects are located on the main Sepik Highway. Main mode of transportation will be by road in terms of transporting of goods and building materials. Hayfield Airstrip is nearby but not used by operating airlines in the province because of good road links. For Nindibari a feeder road of about 3 kilometers links the Sepik National Highway to the community

Like most parts of Papua New Guinea, temperature remains the same all year round, averaging around 25 – 30 degrees Celsius. It can be much hotter or colder depending on the climatic changes during both seasons (ie: dry season and wet season). The dry season starts around April or May for six months to September or October each year while the wet season starts in October or November to March or April the following year.

Annual rainfall has not been recorded in the village so it is difficult to give an accurate figure. But the area does receive heavy rainfall sometimes for days, especially during heavy and prolong wet seasons. Villages also experience droughts during long dry spells. However, because of the geography the villages in the area do not face severe food shortages during long dry spells.

Toilets are pit latrines located some distance away from the houses. A pit latrine is common in Apangai and Nindibari. The communities are encouraged never to use bushes, rivers or small streams.

Up to now, people in both communities have been building and living in bush material houses.
Two main types of houses are built: ground house for storage (usually for storing yams) and house on stumps usually for sleeping. The houses vary in size depending on purpose, choice and family size. Kitchens (or commonly called “haus kuk”) are built separately. Washing of dishes, pots, etc, as well as laundry is done in nearby wells, rivers or streams.

Even though the people are located on the main highway and are living closer to town and government services, life in the village is very tough. Bush materials have to be found and carried up the hills and rough terrain when building houses. Water has to be fetched and carried up the hills and rough terrain to the village. During wet seasons, walking down or up the hills and mountains can be quite dangerous.

For these reasons, people are now keen and looking forward to building good permanent houses. The people are aware that a Habitat house cannot be large but the people believe that they have the resources and the capability to build bigger and better homes. They are prepared to contribute and mobilize their savings, timber from their forest and other resources that may be required to build permanent houses. Labour will be provided free as they themselves will build the houses with the assistance of trained and experienced carpenters and supervisors


Village Accommodation
Accommodation for the Global Village Team is HFH Sepik Affiliate Guesthouse.

Food & Beverages
The community prepares food and beverages for the team. Generally, food will be mixture of store food and garden produce. Store foods are rice, frozen meat, canned fish & meat, etc and garden produce like taro, yam, banana, watermelon, pumpkin and greens.

River is used for bathing and laundry. Rainwater from a water catchments tank is used mainly for cooking, and may be used for bathing as well. Bottled water is recommended for drinking, rinsing of mouth and brushing teeth.

Other Activities
While in the host community, team members are encouraged to take time to visit or be part of the day-to-day activity of the community. Everyday people attend to their yam gardens, or processing of sago, or harvesting of cocoa and vanilla. And Sunday is Sunday service and sports i.e. soccer and volley all in the afternoon.

Habitat house is built of timber on timber stilts, prima flex for walling and galvanized steel roofing sheets. The construction of house begins when the trees are felt and milled for the selected homeowners.

Milling for a Habitat House is done three to six months prior to actual erection of the house. The timbers are milled in accordance to a standard sawmill cut list. After the timbers is being cut enough for a house or more the entire community will set aside a day in which people will carry the timber from the sawmill site to the construction site on bare shoulders. Before the team arrives the house/s are set to the floor joist in preparation for the GV Build.

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