Thursday, June 13, 2024

Deed signed to save leatherbacks


Karkum children dancing to entertain invited
guests, visitors, and  Karkum villagers
at the renewal of their Community Managed
Marine Area using Conservation Deed
on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.
Picture by Aihi Ken.
Karkum renews deed to save leatherbacks

By JAMES G. KILA

A COLOURFUL and spectacular event with a unique cultural significance was staged on Wednesday, May 29th on a beautiful gray sandy beach at Karkum village in Sumgilbar local level government area in Sumkar district, Madang province.

The occasion was the launching of a renewal of the Karkum Community Managed Marine Area using Conversation Deed (CD) which underscores the community’s dedication to protecting the endangered Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) habitat and nesting beaches.

A segment of the program also witnessed a rare traditional ritual that described the local villagers slaughter a live pig and spilling its blood on the beach as a form of reconciliation between them and the leatherback sea turtles.

Conservation Deed is best descried as a flexible community-based, owned, driven, managed and sustained natural resource management area process using Contract law.

Acting Provincial Fisheries Director Greg Serar 
wearing a blue cap on the second from left and 
his officers making a pledge with Karkum
Ward Member Hon. Adolf Lilai, far left,
and Wenceslaus Magun, far right to
build a Inshore Fish Aggregation Device
(IFAD) at Karkum. 
Picture by Aihi Ken.  

In the process, communities are given increased awareness opportunities to use their traditional conservation practices in establishing their natural resources management rules and penalties.

Moreover, the community made rules and penalties based on social, traditional, and cultural practices that are user-friendly, and applicable in their community context.

These laws and penalties bind the parties to their promises and can be enforced in the National Court of Justice in PNG once all the parties countersign the Conservation Deed.

It is a voluntary and flexible legal contract that binds the parties who sign the contract for a set time-frame. The Conservation Deed is reviewed and renewed every three to five years using the most understood, used and spoken language or languages. This allows full participation by clan members in the community or communities.

Karkum village ward six member, Adolf Lilai spared time to explain that the ultimate goal of this community project is to protect, restore, increase and sustain populations of the most critically endangered Western Pacific leatherback sea turtles.

The grey sandy beaches of Karkum village and other coastal communities in Madang province are nesting beaches and support the remaining Western Pacific leatherback sea turtle population which currently is at the verge of extinction.

A leatherback coming to nest at Karkum beach.
Picture by Dr. Lily Sar and UOG film crew.
Film on Karkum by University of Goroka

According to councilor Lilai, due to wide-ranging threats to the survival of this leatherback turtle species more conservation measures must be taken, and as such one local non-governmental organization (NGO), Mas Kagin Tapani (MAKATA) has taken on the challenge head-on since 2006 to assist the Karkum village community to protect the species.

The 2024 CD renewal is built on the Karkum-Mirap CD established in 2008, and has been made possible through the USAID Lukautim Graun Program. The local NGO Mas Kagin Tapani (MAKATA), grant recipient is collaborating with Karkum and Mirap communities to establish their CDs.

Leatherback sea turtles are globally and regionally important shared species as indicated by satellite tracking data showing migration to their feeding grounds around New Zealand, New Caledonia, the northern tip of Australia, Gulf of Mexico and the United States.

Karkum singsing group welcome invited
guests to Karkum village for the renewal 
of their Community Managed Marine Area signing
using Conservation Deed. 
Picture by Wenceslaus Magun

The event at Karkum last week began colorfully with the traditional singsing group who were nicely attired in their beautiful decorations welcoming the guests onto the ceremony. Women from Gorkom clan were nicely attired with PNG-coloured blouses and shared fresh coconut with straws in a typical Pacific islands treat to welcome the guests onto the podium.

Representatives of Ugerken, Nivap-Kirkur,
Gorkom, and Nineng clans of Karkum village
counter-signed and renewed their conservation
deed on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.
Picture by Aihi Ken.  

Four representatives from each of the four clans in Karkum village namely, Ugerken, Nineng, Nivap-Kirkur, and Gorkom together with their beach rangers counter-signed the deed following encouraging speeches by the invited guests. A key witness and chairman of Tokain-Sarang Village Court Magistrate, Martin Wanam, counter-signed the Conservation Deed and stamped it with the official Village Court seal making it officially legal. The CD would be later counter-signed by the Sumgilbar LLG president George Magi, who was not present at the occasion.

Karkum villagers would review the CD in three years’ time and renew it after five years.

They first established this project in mid-2006 under the Turtle Island Restoration Network, a United States-based not-for-profit nongovernmental organization and signed their first CD on 17th November 2008. When funding ceased in December 2008, Magun shouldered the tasks wholeheartedly in forming an organization called Mas Kagin Tapani Association (MAKATA) and sustained this project.

Guests who attended the CD counter-signing were from the Madang Provincial Fisheries and Marine Division, Provincial Disaster Office, Sumkar District Development Authority, USAID PNG Lukautim Graun Program, National Forest Authority, and two ward members from Basken and Sarang villages respectively.

They were joined by officers from WWF, USAID Lukautim Graun Program, NBC Madang journalists and a student journalist from the Divine Word University.

Pr. Moses Mayang counter-signs the 
conservation deed on Wednesday
May 29, 2024. 
Picture by Aihi Ken

Chairman of Karkum Nambis Na Solwara Conservation Project, Pastor Moses Mayang acknowledged and gave special thanks and appreciation to the Executive Director of local NGO Mas Kagin Tapani (MAKATA), Wenceslaus Magun for sacrificing his time and effort in assisting the four major clans of Karkum to unite and agree in counter-signing the Conservation Deed.

Acting Fisheries Director, Greg Serar in acknowledging the achievement of the outcome of the CD pledged to build an Inshore Fish Aggregation Devise (IFAD) for Karkum village. The announcement was well received with applause.

The event was celebrated with traditional singsing, bamboo band music led by Larry ‘Galpang’ Joe, flag raising, and dance by children from Karkum Christian Academy elementary school.

Karkum villagers in appreciation of the efforts put in by MAKATA to support and sustain the Karkum Sea Turtles Restoration Project, gifted Magun with a live pig, fresh garden food, bilums and related gifts.

Guests to the occasion were presented bilums in acknowledgment for witnessing the significant event.

A clan leader Joe Mutindep slaughters
a live pig to reconcile with the
leatherback turtles.
Picture by James Kila

Acting District Administrator for Sumkar, Charles Katu acknowledged the effort of the Karkum community and emphasized the importance of partnership and collaboration in protecting natural resources.

Magun remarked that the occasion marks a step in the right direction for Karkum villagers in managing and sustainably using their marine resources as well as their biodiversity in ways that would also contribute towards meeting their social and economic needs.

 Deed signed to save leatherbacks

JAMES KILA is a freelance journalist based in Madang

Friday, May 31, 2024

Karkum renews Conservation Deed

Representatives of Ugerken, Nineng, Gorkom, and 
Nivap-Kirkur clans countersign their
Community Managed Marine Area's
Conservation Deed on Wednesday
29th May 2024 at Karkum village.
Picture curtesy of Jack Suguman, WWF.


By WENCESLAUS MAGUN 

Madang Provincial Fisheries Manager
Greg Serar, pledging to provide
a Inshore Fish Aggregation Devise
for the Karkum CMMA.
Picture curtesy of Jack Sagumai, WWF 
Karkum villagers successfully launched the renewal of their Community Managed Marine Area using a Conservation Deed (CMMA-CD) on Wednesday 29th May 2024, thanks to USAID LGP, TIRN, TNC, WWF, and Karkum villagers for funding and supporting this project.
The goal of this project is to protect, restore, increase, and sustain populations of the most critically endangered Western Pacific leatherback sea turtles, in ways that also meet local communities' social and economic needs.
The event was witnessed by Madang Provincial Fisheries Manager Greg Serar, and his officers, Madang Provincial Forest Manager Constin Otto, and his officers, Madang Provincial Acting Disaster Director, Rudolf Yongali, Sumkar DDA, and his officers, LLG Ward Members from Basken, and Sarang, whilst the Mirap Ward Member was represented by his officer.
They were joined by neighbouring villagers, WWF officer Jack Suguman, USAID LGP officers, Jayanne Malai and Aihi Ken, NBC Madang journalists, a DWU practical journalism student, other distinguished guests, and Karkum villagers.

In addition, four representatives from each of the four clans in Karkum; Nivap-Kirkur, Ugerken, Nineng, and Gorkom together with their beach rangers counter-signed the CD.

This was witnessed by the Chairman of Tokain-Sarang Village Court Magistrate, Martin Wanam, who counter-signed the CD and stamped it with the official Village Court's Seal.
This makes the CD legally binding and can be effectively applied in any court of justice in Papua New Guinea. He was joined by Karkum Ward Member Hon Adolf Lilai.
The CD will be countersigned by Sumgilbar LLG President George Magi who was absent for the signing of the CD.

Map of Karkum CMMA-CD, curtesy of TNC
Karkum villagers will review the CD in three years and renew it after five years.

They first established this project in mid-2006 under the Turtle Island Restoration Network, a US-based not-for-profit NGO and signed their first CD on 17th November 2008.
Fisheries Manager Greg Serar in acknowledging the achievement of this outcome pledged to build an Inshore Fish Aggregation Device (IFAD) for Karkum villagers.
The event was celebrated with traditional singsing, bamboo band music, flag raising, and dance by Karkum Christian Academy students and staff, opening prayer, speeches and a reconciliation ceremony with nature and amongst the clan groups.
In appreciating efforts put in by Mas Kagin Tapani Association to support and sustain the Karkum Sea Turtles Restoration Project, Karkum villagers gifted Wenceslaus Magun with a live pig, fresh garden food, bilums, and related gifts.
Guests were also presented with bilum gifts by Karkum villagers to thank them for witnessing this significant event.

Pr. Moses Mayang gifting 
Wenceslaus Magun with a live pig, 
fresh garden food, and bilums in 
appreciation for his contributions to
help Karkum review and renew 
their CMMA-CD.
Picture curtesy of Jack Suguman, WWF.
This occasion marks a step in the right direction for Karkum villagers in managing and sustainably using their marine and natural resources as well as their biodiversity and its habitat, in ways that will also contribute towards meeting their social and economic needs.

The event was spiced up with food and drinks for everyone who attended the celebrations.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

MAKATA’S Natural Resources Community Managed Conservation Deed Process

 

Karkum NrMA-CD map courtesy of TNC.

By WENCESLAUS MAGUN

Introduction

Conservation Deed is a flexible community-based, owned, driven, managed, and sustained natural resource management area process using Contract law.

Communities are given increased awareness opportunities to use their traditional conservation practices in establishing their natural resources management rules and penalties.  They make rules and penalties based on the social, traditional, and cultural practices that are user-friendly, and applicable at their community context.  These laws and penalties binds the parties to their promises and can be enforced in the National Court of Justice in Papua New Guinea once all the parties countersign the Conservation Deed.

It is a voluntary and flexible formal legal document from the community that binds the parties who sign the Contract for a set timeframe to manage and sustainably use the natural resources within their community’s resource management area.  It gives them a long-term community stake in the protection of natural resources in ways that also meet their economic and social needs.

The Conservation Deed is reviewed and renewed every three to seven years using the most understood, used, and spoken language or languages.  This allows full and active participation by clan members in the community or communities.

A Conservation Deed integrated into a Management Plan commits to reflect the national laws on the environment permitted by Section 44 (1) of the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments.  It further grounds the truth of the National Protected Area Policy in real-time situations at the community level thus contributing towards achieving specific targets identified by the government to be achieved to meet both the national goals and directive principles as well as the multinational Treaties signed and ratified by the government.

Lessons learned over the implementation of the Conservation Deed, are used to amend laws and penalties or include new laws and penalties during the review process.

Conservation Deed helps uphold and enforce the law and its penalties the clans in the community or communities themselves have established under their own appropriate traditional and suitable local needs. 

This ensures that there is authentic governance of their natural resources at the community level that meets PNG’s Goals 4 and 5 of the Constitution, its protected area policy and law, related policies, laws, and the respective multilateral treaties and targets PNG has signed and ratified at the local context.

Penalties, fines, and community services provided by the party concerned in breaking the law or laws enforced in the Conservation Deed goes towards meeting community needs identified by the community or communities and managed by their natural resources management area’s management committee as the governing council that enforces the Conservation Deed.

The local indigenous clans in the community or communities will or have been supported by technical experts with many years of practicing the process of establishing natural resources management areas using the Conservation Deed.

This process engages with the community or communities through a community entry process which enables the facilitators to gather baseline information.  The team also conducts social mapping, community needs assessment, land-use planning, natural resources management area mapping on the tribal customary land, conservation matrix, livelihood, gender, financial literacy, participatory community journalism, sewing, the different elements of a civil society organization (CSO) or community-based organization (CBO), and related workshops based on their training needs.

This intensive community consultation and facilitation process helps balance conservation outcomes with the clans in the community or communities’ social, infrastructure, and economic needs.

It further prepares the local community or communities to value and appreciate their appropriate traditional customary natural resources management customs and practices as well as the need to establish their natural resources management area using Conservation Deed before giving their free prior informed consent into the actual signing of the deed.

 

Late Mathew Dalek and his clansman tied a
tanget as a customary practice to establish
their NrMA using Conservation Deed on 11 
November 2008.
 Picture by Wenceslaus 
Magun

Management Plan

Community Entry and Baseline Assessment

Visit villages and hold meetings, individual discussions etc with as many people as possible and take note of their concerns, and training needs whilst documenting lessons learned from them.

Step 1 – Introduction and Planning

 1.1.       Conduct an introduction to the planning process. Meet with the local community-based             organization (CBO), clan leaders, and members of the clan (or clans).

            1.2.    Conduct a natural resources management area community profile and training needs                assessment.

1.3.        Conduct a thorough assessment of forests, rivers, lakes, grasslands, swamps, seas,               lagoons, mangroves, estuaries, and mountains by patrolling and walk the land or dive              their rivers, seas, lagoons, swamps, and lakes with the locals and the expert staff to                 carry out rapid biological assessments if not done.

Step 2 – Social Mapping, and Site Protection

 2.1.     Gather information on species composition, nesting frequency, habitat quality, and

human activities impacting the natural resources management area if not done. 

2.2.     Identify and demarcate nesting sites for protection, restoration, implementing

measures to minimize disturbances for the endangered species if not done.

2.3.     Establish community patrols to monitor the nesting activities of the endangered species and deter poaching if not done.

2.4.     Conduct Conservation Area matrix, Conservation Deed rules and penalties, and review any past Conservation Deed documents for the area and update them.

2.5.     Facilitate the establishment of the management committee and their rangers or Was Man na Meri workshops. 

2.6.     Use butcher papers to draw sketch maps or do it on the ground with stones and natural materials. Develop resource mapping, and community history if not done.

2.7.     If necessary, and affordable, engage a security firm to assist rangers provide security and protection for the protection and restoration of the endangered fauna and flora for both locals and outsiders to adhere to the laws and penalties established in the Conservation Deed.

Wenceslaus Magun presents library books to 
Waging Bidang for Bagabag
Primary School. 

Step 3 - Community Engagement and Awareness

   

            3.1.     Hold informal meetings with communities in the villages and strengthen their management activities through engagement in workshops, meetings, and educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and the sustainable use of their forests, rivers, lakes, swamps, mountains, seas, lagoons, mangroves, estuaries, and grassland resources.

        3.2.     Provide training and capacity-building opportunities for awareness, conservation techniques, monitoring, tagging, data compilation, restoration of their flora and fauna, sustainable livelihood alternatives to balance conservation outcomes and related training and educational awareness for local community members, resource managers, and community rangers or Was Man na Meri on forest, rivers, lakes, swamps, mountain, seas, lagoons, mangroves, estuaries, and grassland if not done.

3.3.     Encourage community participation in monitoring efforts and sustainable practices if not done.

Step 4 – Review CBO’s Vision, Mission, & Objectives

4.1.      Community Visioning as an activity in this Step is to meet with clan and community                  leaders to review and or to develop their community vision for the future within their                 Community Development Association (CBO) if they have one.

4.2.     If they don’t have an Association, then help them set up their CBO’s Management     Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives by introducing them to clan leaders in a     community meeting management plan.  Assist them in reviewing or discussing their     Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives.

4.3.     Hold further meetings or group discussions with individuals and or small cluster groups of youths, women, people living with disabilities, and or others to refine further their management plan’s Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives if necessary.

 

Step 5 – Review Boundaries

 

5.1.     Review or establish the Boundary Demarcation for their village.  Review their boundary demarcation together with their management plan and Conservation Deed three years after the launching of their CD if not done.

5.2.   Meet with clan and community leaders, identify the community and clan land boundaries in the field, identify any boundary disputes, resolve disputes, and agree on the boundaries should there be any issues arising.  Agree on the land boundary or boundaries and carry out the boundary or boundaries survey if not done.

Step 6 – Review or establish CD rules and actions

6.1.     Three years after the launching of their CD, facilitate clan discussions and review their NrMAP-CD management rules and actions.

6.2.     Hold meetings with villagers, visit them, and hold further meetings with all cluster groups and individuals and with as many people as possible.

6.3.     Review the outcome of discussions to date at a second general village meeting.

 

Yamai villagers in Raicoast District, Madang
Province, release a leatherback to sea.
Picture by Simon Warr.

Step 7 – Draft Management Plan

7.1.     Prepare a written draft of the Natural                  Resource Management Area Plan for the             villagers.

7.2.    Ensure all agreed management objectives and actions are documented in the Natural Resource Management Area Plan.


Step 8 – Review Governing Rules in the NrMAP-CD

8.1.     Review the governing rules in the Natural Resource Management Area Plan for the villagers.

8.2.   Give copies of the draft Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD to clan leaders for review. 

8.3.    Call meetings with other stakeholders and present them copies of the Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD and discuss the draft agreement and plan.

 

Step 9 – Finalize NrMAP-CD

 

Finalize Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD.

 

Step 10 – Launching of NrMAP-CD

 

10.1.   Meet with villagers and present their Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD and finalize the date for the signing of their management plan and CD. 

10.2.   When all is confirmed, launch the Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD.

10.3.   Get the respective leaders to counter-sign it witnessed by relevant stakeholders and neighboring villages’ representatives.

 Step 11 – Media Publicity

11.1.   Carry out media publicity and awareness raising for the launch of the Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD during and after the launching of their CMMA-CD.

11.2.   Share copies of the media story with the villagers and relevant stakeholders.

 

 

MAKATA trained 47 women in basic sewing
at Tarak village, Karkar Island in 2022.  The
CBO representatives from Sumgilbar LLG and 
Karkar LLG were each presented with sewing
machines, tools and sewing materials.

Step 12 – Monitoring and Evaluation

 

12.1.   After the Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD implementation and         launching, carry out monitoring and evaluation exercises.

12.2.  Teach the villagers to conduct regular monitoring of flora and fauna and habitat   conditions so that they continue to do that by themselves.

12.3.   For the accuracy of information and data, it is recommended that rangers from the village and the neighboring communities receive proper capacity-building training to collect data on the flora and fauna, their habitat conditions, and threats to inform adaptive management strategies.

12.4.   They can use the opportunity of establishing their Natural Resource Management Area Plan and CD to encourage scientific research and collaboration with universities, colleges, students, researchers, corporate entities, and research institutions.

 Step 13 - Habitat Restoration

 13.1.   During the NrMAP-CD review process, three years after the launching of the NrMAP-              CD, it would be recommendable to include in the CDs specific rules and penalties to                restore and enhance nesting habitats of endangered species by implementing                        management control measures, vegetation restoration, and removal of debris and                     pollutants in their NrMA.

13.2.   In the meantime, these villagers may collaborate with local stakeholders, business     houses, schools, colleges, universities, churches, individuals, NGOs, CBOs, Civil    Society Organizations (CSOs), donors, neighboring villages, other communities doing NrMAP-CD or similar projects and government agencies to implement sustainable NrMAP-CD development practices and livelihood options.

Step 14 - Legislative Support

  

14.1.   These villagers are called upon to advocate for the enforcement of existing laws and regulations related to NrMA.

14.2.   They are to work with government agencies to strengthen legal frameworks, establish protected areas, and implement penalties for illegal harvesting and trade of endangered flora and fauna and their natural resources products deemed not to be exploited in their NrMAP-CD

14.3.   If necessary and affordable through collaborative efforts, they may engage a security firm to assist them in enforcing the laws and penalties enshrined in the NrMAP-CD

14.4.     Their Ward Member or Members may also call upon their LLG to enact an environmental bill and get their Provincial Executive Council to pass it and make it a law in the province.

 

Debris washed ashore at Karkum Beach
destroyed Community-Based nesting sites for
sea turtles.
Picture by Wenceslaus Magun

Step 15 - Partnerships and Collaboration:

15.1.   These villagers are called upon to foster partnerships with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-government Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), neighboring villages and distant communities in both Papua New Guinea and abroad who have established Natural Resource Management Area Plans, Locally Marine Managed Areas (LMMAs), or Community Managed Marine Areas using Conservation Deed (CMMA-CDs), conservation organizations, academia, churches, corporate entities, and government agencies to leverage resources, expertise, and support for NrMA’s conservation efforts.

15.2.   They are to collaborate on research projects, fundraising initiatives, and policy             advocacy campaigns.

Step 16 - Long-Term Sustainability

16.1.   These villagers are to develop a long-term sustainability plan for their NrMA, by                     incorporating adaptive management principles, community stewardship, and ongoing               monitoring and evaluation.

16.2.  They are to ensure the integration of NrMA, into broader natural resources     management strategies including mangroves, estuaries, and habitat restoration.

Step 17 - Budget and Activities Schedule

17.1.    These villagers may use this NrMA Plan to engage a stakeholder partner and or are at           liberty to develop a Budget and Work Schedule for each step and their specific activities          for their NrMA review, and raise funds to implement their respective NrMA, management             plan inclusive of their CD.

 

USAID LGP team visited Mirap village in
February 2024 and 
conducted a monitoring and evaluation 
exercise.  Picture by Wenceslaus Magun

Conclusion.

 

1.    By reviewing the NrMA – CD plan, finalizing it, or developing one, raising funds, and implementing it, these villagers can contribute to the conservation of endangered flora and fauna species in their ward level, local level government, district, and province, to meet global, regional, and national targets for protecting, restoring, increasing, and sustaining the populations of the endangered flora and fauna.

2.     These efforts contribute towards achieving protected areas targets while promoting sustainable development, including sustainable eco-tourism, being a conduit for scientific research, education, cultural exchanges, economic opportunities, and community resilience in the face of global warming and climate change impacts in their Ward, LLG, District, Province, and in Papua New Guinea.

 

The End


Friday, December 22, 2023

K4 million needed for Alexishafen seawall

Civil Engineer Samuel Karsailo with paper
taking notes accompanied by 
builder James Akubi scoping the Alexishafen
beach to design and build a 500-meter seawall.
At the background is
late Archbishop Adolph Noser's house.

 Story and pictures by WENCESLAUS MAGUN

Video credits to Participatory Community Journalism Training participants:
1. Tibudhun ELC Congregation from Bagabag Island - Meri Safe House;
2. Tabel Parish - Alexishafen health workers combat TB outbreak;
3. Gildipasi CSO - Gildipasi thanks SVD;
4. Sr. Cathy Mutun, St. Therese Sister - Life of a nun with St. Therese Sisters; and
5. Constantine Alibob - David Bai's Mangrove Project in Alexishafen.

An urgent drive to raise K4 million to build a 500-meter seawall construction at Alexishafen Catholic Station, located approximately 25km north of Madang town in Papua New Guinea is currently underway.

This project aims to address the ongoing issues related to coastal erosion and protect the station from the adverse effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

“I am really worried that if nothing is done to prevent the sea from washing away the land that houses the retreat and conference centers and the other buildings here in Alexishafen these historical buildings will soon be washed away”, said Fr George Ryfa, SVD, Alexishafen retreat and conference center manager.

 

Fr. George Ryfa , SVD, James Akubi, builder, and 
Samuel Karsailo, Civil Engineer discussing
plans to build the 500-meter Alexishafen
seawall.

Project Overview:

The proposed project entails the construction of a robust and sustainable 500-meter seawall along the coastal area of Alexishafen Catholic Station. The seawall will provide essential protection against erosion, storm surges, and tidal fluctuations, safeguarding the station's infrastructure, land, and inhabitants.

Project Objectives:

The primary objectives of this project are as follows:

   a. Mitigate coastal erosion: The seawall will act as a barrier, preventing further erosion of the coastal land.

   b. Protect infrastructure: The construction of a seawall will safeguard critical infrastructure, including buildings, roads, and utilities, from damage caused by rising sea levels and storm surges.

   c. Preserve the environment: The proposed seawall design will incorporate environmentally friendly materials and construction practices to minimize any negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

   d. Enhance community resilience: By providing a protective barrier, the seawall will enhance the resilience of the Alexishafen Catholic Station community against climate change and its associated risks. 

Erosion is gradually washing away land
where the Madang Archdiocese's Catechist
Training Center is located in Alexishafen.

“We believe that the construction of a seawall at Alexishafen Catholic Station is crucial to protect the station, its infrastructure, and the surrounding community from the adverse effects of coastal erosion and climate change,” reiterated Fr. George.

He said his team of experienced professionals are committed to delivering a high-quality seawall project that meets any keen donor’s requirements and ensures the long-term sustainability of the seawall.

Late Archbishop Adolf Noser's house
in Alexishafen facing imminent threat from
being washed away.

 
Contact details

Fr George Ryfa, SVD, and his team are delighted to discuss this project further and answer any questions or concerns from anyone who may have any queries about it.

Please feel free to contact Fr. George Ryfa, SVD, at gryfasvd@gmail.com or Mobile: 72037533



 
Retreat-Conference Centers in Alexishafen
facing imminent threat from rising sea level, sea
surges and rapid soil erosion. 

Background

Alexishafen is located in Lat 5° 4' 60S Long 145° 48' 0E in Papua New Guinea (Wikipedia).   “Alexishafen”, is named after a Russian duke by some Russians who surveyed the New Guinea coastline in the early 1800s.  It is situated eight (8) nautical miles (25km) to the north of Madang town.

On August 13, 1896, the first six missionaries from the congregation of the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) or the Divine Word Missionaries led by their first SVD Superior, Fr. Eberhard Limbrock, 36, arrived in Friedrich-Wilhemshafen (Madang town) in obedience to their founder Fr. Arnold Janssen (now Saint Arnold Janssen).

St. Michael's Primary School one of the
pioneer schools established by the SVDs
and SSpS missionaries after arriving in
Alexishafen.

They came intending to establish their first mission post in Friedrich-Wilhemshafen (Madang town) in New Guinea.

After arriving in Madang they were not cordially welcomed by the Lutherans (Rhenish Mission Society) nor did the German New Guinea Company Neuguinea-Kampegnte, who were administering Madang back then, who failed to give them a 10-hector land promised to them. 

This forced Fr. Limbrock and his five companions, Fr. Franz Vormann, Fr. Joseph Edweg, Brothers Canisius Hautkappe (a mechanic), Eustochius Tigges (a carpenter and cabinet maker) and Theoducph Schmidt (a cook and tailor) to move six weeks later to Tumleo Island, 450 km northwest of Madang in current Sundown Province, where they established their first mission station in 1886 after buying a plantation from Neuguinea-Kampegnte.

The US Navy built its naval base in 
Alexishafen after defeating Japanese forces in 
1944 and remained there till 1945. Alexishafen
wharf and warehouse are now in a dilapidated state
and needs urgent maintenance and repair.

Before moving to Tumleo, Fr. Limbrock stricken by Malaria stayed back in Friedrich-Wilhemshafen (Madang town) and in September 1896 visited Alexishafen for the first time and was impressed by the site.  He was accompanied by Brothers Eustochius and Theodulph who later went to Tumleo from Alexishafen to join their companions.

Whilst, staying in Friedrich-Wilhemshafen (Madang town), he sent Fathers Vormann and Edweg and Brothers Canisius ahead to Tumleo to establish their first SVD Catholic mission station there.

They were later joined by the first Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS) in 1899. 

Alexishafen Meri Safe House provides much
needed protection, and counseling for many 
abused, and traumatized women, men, and families
from violence.

Meri Safe House in the eyes of Tibudhun ELC Congregation of Bagabag Island

In 1904 Fr. Limbrock returned to Friedrich-Wilhemshafen (Madang town) and went to Alexishafen again, where he bought 160 hectares of land and established their second mission station in New Guinea.

In June 1904, a contract of sale was closed with the owner of the property, Mr Futol who was the inhabitant of Sek (Idawan) an island that lies opposite the entrance of the harbor. Fr Limbrock was joined by Br. Canisius Hautkappe (a mechanic), and Br. Sylvester Litzenberger.  After settling in at Alexishafen, Fr. Limbrock celebrated his first Mass on March 23, 1905.

Work began in cleaning and clearing up the 160 hectares of land.  Local laborers helped the early missionaries in clearing the station.  They also helped plant coconuts, and rubber plantations as well as looking after pigs, and cattle so the early missionaries could sustain their activities, and lives and not rely heavily on their Mother House in Germany or Europe for its supplies.

Mother Mary is, was, and will 
always be in the hearts of missionaries,
interceding for the Church.

By the 1930’s the construction and development of Alexishafen reached its peak under Bishop Francis Wolf, the first SVD Bishop of East New Guinea with the completion of a majestic St. Michaels cathedral in 1939. 

More priests and brothers arrived from Europe which strengthened the growth of the mission activities. Remote areas were reached by small planes and boats which continued their services until the 1980’s.

From 1926 to 1939 mission work spread far and wide from Alexishafen into the hinterlands, coastal regions, far-flung islands, and eventually into the highlands of New Guinea.

According to Wikipedia St. Michael's Cathedral
was bombed by the Allies who suspected the
Japanese army of storing its ammunition in it.

One outstanding structure built during the reign of Bishop Francis Wolf, SVD, bishop of East New Guinea, was the construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral. History shows that St. Michael’s Cathedral was believed to be the biggest and the best in PNG and the Pacific at that time. 

St. Michael the archangel’s statue was brought to Alexishafen from Germany in 1939 and was planned to be placed in the cathedral’s niche high up on the cathedral's fa├žade.
Unfortunately, this did not eventuate.

Remains of a Japanese tanker lying in ruins
in Alexishafen where it was bombed during
the Second World War in Alexishafen between
the Japanese soldiers and the Allies from 
1942 to 1944. 

The allied forces who were hunting for the Japanese soldiers who arrived early in the morning on 23rd December 1942 in barges, and forcefully occupied St. Michael’s Alexishafen, raided Alexishafen on 1st September 1943 and flattened it including bombing the majestic cathedral.

Under the Japanese occupation, the Japanese Army developed the Alexishafen area into a base and airfield area expanding to Danip and building a runway to the south for bombers.  It was known as Alexishafen Airfield.

Allied aircraft bombed, flattened the area, and neutralized the airfields in late 1942 until 1944.

The Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS) convent in
Alexishafen

From December 18, 1942, up till April 15, 1944, the Allies occupied Alexishafen after the Australian Army's 30th Battalion in the Battle of Madang liberated Madang and Alexishafen on April 26, 1944.  They also captured many Japanese supply dumps and abandoned equipment.


In July 1944, after defeating the Japanese, 
the Allies built their 2/15th Field Hospital in Alexishafen. 

According to information obtained from Wikipedia, the US Navy's 7th Amphibious Force established a base in Alexishafen in May 1944.  On June 13, 1944, 200 US Navy's Seabee 91st Construction Battalion arrived in Alexishafen to support their war operations off the north shores of New Guinea. The  US Army closed its Naval base on January 28, 1945.

Fortunately, St. Michael’s statue was not destroyed during the Allied raids as it was stored on the verandah of the brothers’ house which was not bombed. St. Michael’s statue now rests in the SVD’s house at Divine Word University in Madang town.

Alexishafen's Heart of Mary Health Center
is one of the major key social services
the Catholic Church continues to provide
for sick patients from all religions, denominations,
race, creed, ethnic groups, rich or poor, educated
 or not, and political affiliations.

Alexishafen health workers combat TB outbreak

The early missionaries including Bishop Francis Wolf were held captive by the Japanese soldiers who took them to the hills of Gayaba ('Gayava', in local dialect) and later walked them to Bogia.  From Bogia they sailed to Manam Island and joined other Lutheran missionaries.  

As they were sailing from Manam en route Hollandia (present-day Jayapura in West Papua), on a Japanese ship Yorishime Maru, the American warplanes sited the ship at the time and bombed it near Wewak harbor, killing many on board.  Those who survived and were brought to the Wewak Hospital for treatment also died including Bishop Wolf.  His remains were later brought back to Alexishafen and was buried in the chapel which has replaced the majestic St. Michael’s cathedral he once built.

Gayaba is now respected by the Catholics in Madang.  Pilgrims visit Gayaba for spiritual enrichment annually.  This sacred site is now known as “Maria Helpim” in Tok Pidgin or “Mary, Our Lady of Perpetua Help.”

Prior to the Second World War, and after the war, Alexishafen grew into the epicenter of the Catholic Church in East New Guinea. 

In 2021, the SVDs and SSpS celebrated
their 125 years of mission work in PNG after
arriving in Madang on 13 August 1896 from
Germany.

Gildipasi thanks SVD

SVD and SSpS mission services continued after the Second World War using mission boats and planes. 

The SVD and SSpS missionaries and lay people provided shipbuilding and maintenance, carpentry and joinery, mechanical and machining, electrical, butchery, and plumbing services, as well as built health centers and schools and provided medicines, doctors, sisters, nurses, and teachers to run these institutions.

Fr. George Ryfa, SVD, celebrating
Christmas with his staff and their 
families.  He appreciates their efforts
in faithfully looking after the station.

They also established the first Doilon post office, a catechist training school at Gayaba, a domestic girls school in Alexishafen which has now become a Technical Vocational Educational Training (TVET) school, and a railroad (known as Bonny railway or donkey railway) connecting Alexishafen and Gayaba Catechist training center. 

The SVDs and SSpS also helped establish St. Michael’s primary school, shoe shop, printing house, and sawmill and created job opportunities for many local and expatriate men and women.

Many of these services have been closed after the SVD handed the property over to the Madang Archdiocese in 1994/95.

St. Therese Sisters convent in Alexishafen.

Life of a nun with St. Therese Sisters

Under the reign of Archbishop Adolf Noser, founder of the St. Therese’s Sisters, a local congregation, the Catholic Church in Madang established the SVD high school which transited to Divine Word Institute in 1979 and later became Divine Word University in 1996. 

Alexishafen currently houses the conference and retreat centers, Prayer House, Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS) convent, St. Therese Sisters convent, Meri Safe House, St. Michael’s Primary School, Alexishafen's Heart of Mary Health Center, Catechist Training Centre, St. Anna’s TVET, a teaching congregation of sisters from India, the Assisi Sisters of Immaculate Conception who are currently teaching at St. Jacinta Day High School, at Maren, residential houses for teachers, nurses, sisters and other workmen for the station.

Late Archbishop Adolph Noser's
grave lying just under the 
cenotaph of the pioneer missionaries
killed during the Second World War.

Alexishafen also has a cemetery that has become the safe home for the deceased missionaries with lay people both past and present.

Some of the war relics and the historical buildings built in Alexishafen by the pioneer missionaries, including the main wharf and jetty with the newly built structures today face the imminent threat of erosion, storm surges, and tidal fluctuations.

St. Michael's parish church with the parish priest's
house in Alexishafen.

David Bai's Mangrove Project in Alexishafen

The existing RD wharf and fishing facilities which have been taken over by the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) and the establishment of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) opposite Alexishafen pauses an eminent marine and social threats to the livelihoods of the inhabitants in the surrounding areas.  These corporate entities and the State have a social corporate responsibility to support the locals and the Catholic Church in Madang.