By Eleanor Maineke
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
The BPBP Office is located at the Arevai Green House Building in Arawa, Central Bougainville.
After the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) the process of reuniting divided families continued. It is the duty of each and every Bougainvillean to help each other and many groups, organisations and agencies are working to achieve unity in Bougainville.
Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP), which currently operates from its office in Arawa, is one such home-grown program that is helping to address the outstanding cases of the Bougainville Crisis.
The program was initiated by the Meekamui to unite the Meekamui factions and was endorsed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government at the BEC meeting in 2011.
The BPBP is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) under the Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) program.
The program indicates the partnership and relationship between the people of Bougainville who desire to settle the crisis-related issues which stoke the fires of hatred and maintain divisions between conflicting parties.
The program initially started as Panguna Peace Building Strategy of which, as the name suggests, the main aim was to settle the issues in the Panguna area, the epicentre of the Bougainville Crisis.
The call from other districts was so strong, the program proving so effective, that it was extended to all the districts via the establishment of the district peace & security committees. The establishment of District Peace and Security Committees (DPSC) was also endorsed by the ABG’s BEC Meeting in 2014.
With the establishment of the 12 DPSC’s for the 12 districts of Buin, Siwai, Bana, Torokina, Panguna, Kieta, Wakunai, Tinputz, Kunua, Selau/Suir, Buka and the Atolls; the coordination load increased at the level of the BPBP staff.
The Siwai DPSC signed the MOU when the program was still known as the Panguna Peace Building Strategy.
The need for additional staff was seen and the program created a number of positions. With the help of SPSN, it advertised those positions in the print media (Post-Courier) in 2015. The recruitment process to this date resulted in a full BPBP team of 15 staff on salary, plus other community development workers who are engaged on casual basis.
The recruitment of the new staff members dawned another step for Bougainville. The human resources at hand helped deliver activities more effectively and efficiently. This is critical, as the region is fast approaching the set date for the vote for Bougainville’s Referendum and the international community is closely monitoring the level governance of the island in all its programs and activities.
On the 2 April 2016, the Bougainville Peace Building Program Governing Council Committee hosted its first meeting for the year. The Acting Chief Secretary of the Bougainville Administration, Mr. Paul Kebori, is the chairman of the committee, while the Meekamui Representative, Mr. Blaise Iruinu, is the Deputy Chairman of the committee.
The committee’s composition shows the importance of the program to the people of Bougainville. That the three regional members for the ex-combatants in the ABG parliament, the LLG Minister, the Bougainville Women’s Federation president and the president of the Bougainville Youth Foundation plus the other nine members.
Some of the BPBP Governing Council members during the Council meeting on 2nd April 2016
The chairman of the committee alluded that BPBP is a very important program and will heavily contribute to the measurement of the level of good governance per the reconciliation ceremonies and settling of crisis-related conflicts.
At the same time, the council was informed of the changing of the managing contractor under which BPBP gets financial support from the Australian government.
An encouraging words were given to the BPBP management and staff to continue to face each day’s challenges as stepping stones and help the people to restore what has been destroyed during the bloody civil war and beyond.