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Young people are an important human asset for nation building. According to the National Youth Policy 2020-2023, youth make up 36 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) population.

In PNG, as is in other countries, social and economic challenges can prevent young people from realising their full potential.

In late 2019, The Voice Inc (TVI) was funded by the Oil Search Foundation (OSF) to conduct a survey and hold a youth forum in the Nipa- Kutubu District of Southern Highlands. The goal of both was to understand the challenges and aspirations of young people whilst providing an avenue for them to share and exchange ideas.

Over 600 youth undertook the survey, and close to 120 youth leaders participated in the forum which revealed the common issues they faced, such as the lack of job opportunities, limited access to formal education and training, poor literacy and wanting more opportunities to fully participate in the development of their communities.

Whilst these barriers exist, many wanted to learn new skills to improve their livelihood in areas such as agriculture, tourism and trade or the infrastructure sector. Following the 2019 events, the young people of Nipa-Kutubu District took ownership of what was identified in the survey and forum and asked TVI to return to their district to continue with leadership and skills training.

Over 200 young people and community leaders from the 4 LLGs; Poroma, Nembi-Plateau, Nipa and Kutubu attended these workshops with most being empowered to take the next step, in enabling change in their community. Many of them turned their farming practices into money making opportunities which not only kept them busy but allowed them to earn money to support their own families.

Maliwai Sasingian, The Voice Inc, Executive Director said “Seeing their eagerness and willingness to create something for themselves, we went back upon their invite and ran a refresher training on leadership, also given that most are into farming, we then facilitated a potato farming session.

“They were taught how to commercialise potato farming as a small business venture. We are grateful that TVI through an innovative partnership with OSF was able to empower these young men and women to become entrepreneurs in their communities.” she said.

OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell adds, “It’s exciting to see these young people take ownership of the change they want to see happen in their communities.

"Youth are critical to the future development of PNG, and OSF recognises that they must be provided with knowledge and skills to contribute to their communities in ways that are most important to them. Knowing the priority communities place on supporting their young people to fulfil their dreams, we will be designing a program next year on the back of this enthusiasm to provide more opportunities for them"
- Stephanie Copus-Campbell Oil Search Foundation Executive Director