Good news for Manam Islanders

More than a decade ago the Manam Islanders in Madang province were forced to leave their homes and move to the mainland following the Volcanic eruption of their island home.

Almost 13 years later, these people still lack the basic services; some even choosing to ignore the risks and move back to the northern end of the Island.

These Islanders may have hope still as the office of Planning has directed for preparation for a restoration bill for the recent Kadovar Volcano disaster issue, which will benefit them as well. 

Minister for Planning Richard Maru in a statement on Monday established a new Kadovar restoration Authority Bill to be tabled in Parliament to establish the required restoration Authority.

Identifying and acquiring land for the resettlement of displaced Islanders, including negotiating with landowners is one of the functions of this Bill, which should help deal with a main issue faced by the Manam Islanders.

In late 2016, the IOM had established that, ‘Over time, resettlement had become a difficult and complex political issue. The Madang Provincial Government had developed a plan for a new permanent resettlement site for the islanders at Andarum, some 30 km inland, but that will not be accessible for several years, and finance for its development has not currently been provided.

The report went on to say that a number of islanders have now decided to relocate back to Manam, especially at the northern village of Baliau, partly because of a residential preference but also because of tensions and violence with mainlanders.

Minister Maru said “In all fairness, while we are working on the settlement of the Kadovar people, it is only proper that I urge Minister Kevin Isifu, who is also Minister responsible for all natural disasters, to concurrently champion the resettlement of the people of Manam who are still living in care centres. We have a duty of care to deal with both cases concurrently and have the people of Manam resettled as a matter of priority.

The minister reiterated that an officer from planning will be allocated to work with both restoration authorities, to calculate the cost for the whole resettlement and provide funding appropriation in the 2019 National Budget.

This funding will be to resettle the people permanently following a similar model that the Government used to resettle the people of East New Britain through the Gazelle Restoration Authority.

“This will include making land available for each of the families, providing assistance to build homes, while at the same time providing for roads, schools and other infrastructure, to enable a smooth transition of the affected people into their new homes in the permanent resettlement exercise,” Minister Maru said.


Related article:

Manam still not forgotten -


Imelda Wavik