Sisi Wainetti is one of 34 women rangers in the Building Resilience in Treaty Village program, which has marked a five year milestone in the South Fly District of Western Province. Sisi has led efforts to construct water and sanitation facilities in her local community.
A teacher by profession, Sisi felt that she could make greater impact in her community by becoming a ranger and learning valuable skills to build community resilience.
The program is supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership and is focused on the 14 treaty villages. Sisi and other female rangers have acquired skills to deliver innovative local solutions for health and sanitation challenges such as maternal health and access to clean water supply.
Prior to the program Sisi and her village often struggled with unreliable access to water.
“Finding water was a struggle during the dry season as you had to search for clean water in creeks and lagoons very far from home. I knew of women who had died giving birth from not having proper medical facilities which rely on water,” said Sisi.
At first Sisi was reluctant to become a ranger as it meant she was entering an environment previously reserved for men. But after talking to other women who were in the program, she discovered that it benefited both men and women, so she felt encouraged to apply.
“I started off small by helping the other rangers make tippy taps and sanitary bags for sale and then with the help of the trainers I started to make concrete rainwater tanks and drill bores to get groundwater.”
Sisi also had the opportunity to be trained as a Ward Recorder – an essential role in gathering essential data to effectively develop Ward Development Plans as a precursor to securing District Service Improvement Funds.
“As a Ranger I sit on my Ward Development Committee along-side representatives from other areas such as law, churches and health, so we have an equal voice when advocating for village level funding”.
The program has impacted our community in so many ways, we can build solutions for ourselves, young people are being encouraged to become rangers and as women we are viewed equal in capacity to men – there is no distinction because of our gender,”
Over the past five years the program has seen 110 rangers trained to build concrete water tanks, wells, bores, toilets, hand washing stations and supporting infrastructure across their villages.
Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor, Andrew Egan applauded the Program’s five-year milestone in developing local solutions for better community resilience.
“We are exploring how the local Rangers program can improve service delivery, including access to safe and clean water – as this is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of all people, particularly the vulnerable such as women and people with disabilities” said Mr Egan.
“Development challenges in the South Fly are substantial, women like Sisi can drive positive change” Mr Egan said.
Feature Pic: Senior ranger Sisi Wainetti, a member of the Ward Development Committee at her local Tais village