The situation of young people in Port Moresby’s Morata informal settlement and what the government could do to keep them from social evils by Julian Melpa BA and Dr Francis Odhuno, Issues Paper No 40, National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea, April 2022. Link here to access the complete paper
NOOSA – The PNG National Research Institute has been investigating the situation of unemployed youth in Port Moresby and identifying what reforms are required to “keep them from social evils” as the research report puts it.
The research by Dr Francis Odhuno and intern Julian Melpa provides insights into the challenges faced by young men and women at Port Moresby’s sprawling Morata settlement and looks for answers there which also might apply to the rest of PNG.
Morata settlement is inhabited by a multi-ethnic mix of low and middle income people where opportunities for earning an income are scarce and unemployment high.
The lack of jobs and other sources of income have led some young people into crime to sustain themselves and their families.
The researchers say that, while Morata is slowly improving socially, the two constants of youth unemployment and youth involvement in criminal activities remain constant.
In fact, youth unemployment is increasing across all rural and urban areas of PNG.
The resultant poverty and law-and-order issues, the researchers say, are “really a threat to the growth of the nation and peace and harmony in the societies.”
This, they add, should “prompt a rethink of strategies to meaningfully engage youth in the country’s development process.
“The government should create a platform for every youth to at least take part, not only to earn a living but also to contribute towards the development of the nation.
“In particular, the government should expand opportunities for quality education and training, rehabilitation centres and endeavor to expand agriculture and downstream processing of raw materials.”
Other specific initiatives would involve engaging youth in community service projects, provide training opportunities on how to efficiently manage a business and establish youth loan schemes to enable young people to start their own businesses
Expanding agricultural and manufacturing opportunities should be able absorb many people graduating from schools, colleges and vocational institutions, providing they have the right skills.
The research paper concludes by stating that “the only way to protect the community is to minimise or even eradicate criminal activities.
“This can be done by equipping unemployed youth with useful skills, knowledge and job opportunities to at least generate income for themselves in order to survive.
“The initiatives being promoted here can be applied elsewhere in PNG to address the problem of youth unemployment,” the authors say.
Then “the criminal activities perpetrated by young people in Morata settlement should be expected to decrease”.
But not mentioned is the alternative – what happens if training opportunities, business loans, community service projects and greater growth across the economy do not occur.
The gloomy answer to a question not asked can only that communities will become even more impoverished and that law and order problems will become even more shocking.