Kommuniti Lukautim Ol Meri: making a difference in Papua New Guinea

In Western Highlands and West Sepik provinces of Papua New Guinea, FHI 360 has been using a three pronged approach to address violence against women. The Kommuniti Lukautim Ol Meri project focuses on prevention, response and empowerment to reduce the incidences of violence and to promote adequate responses for survivors. In the three year phase, the project reached over 100,000 people. A summary of the project can be found here. The project has been continued through a new phase which expands support to the Maprik District of East Sepik.

Kommunit Lukautim Ol Meri’ which means ‘community taking care of girls and women.’ The project approach is grounded in international best practice and uses a social-ecological model. That is, it works to facilitate decisive action at the individual, relationship, community, institutional and societal levels to lead to positive changes in behaviours and practices to end violence against women. Ten impact stories were collected over the project and can be found here.

Prevention activities included outreach interventions conducted by community mobilisers. These local community members conducted home visits with almost 20,000 people, conducted one-on-one, small group and community discussions with over 85,000 people as well as distributing materials to raise awareness about the problem of gender-based violence and services available for survivors. Noting the importance of engaging with leaders, opinion shapers and key justice service providers, the number of men involved in prevention activities was 49.7 per cent.

Responses for survivors of family violence were strengthened through the project’s support to the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority’s Well Women’s Clinic and to the Vanimo Family Support Centre and Raihu District Hospital of the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority. Over the life of the project, 653 women and girls approached these services after being raped. Of concern, the highest incidences of rape reported were by girls aged 15 to 18, followed by girls aged 10 to 14. Due to the project’s prevention messaging on accessing clinical services within 72 hours of rape for care, 50 per cent of these women attended the clinic in time to commence Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (or ‘PEP’). The project also worked to strengthen relationships between service providers. The majority of referrals to health services came from police, which assisted greatly in increasing the number of survivors accessing care within 72 hours.

Empowering individuals and communities to take care of women and girls included providing training and skills development. Almost 1,300 people from the community and service providers including health workers, police, village court magistrates and teachers were provided with more knowledge and skills on gender and gender-based violence sensitisation, and topics including safe motherhood, human rights, school-related gender-based violence and child protection.

The project was interested in documenting the number of people living with a disability that participated in the project, using the Washington Disability Matrix. Whilst was not used mandatorily, project staff found that many communities and individuals were willing to use the tool. The tool was administered to over 3,000 people of which, almost 30 per cent were living with a disability. The most robust disability data was collected in Aitape-Lumi District in West Sepik Province.

In 2014, a Survey on Family Wellbeing from the two project provinces was undertaken. The Survey provided valuable understanding of attitudes toward violence, of the prevailing social norms and the levels of knowledge among project target communities. The Survey found that gender norms that promote violence against women and children, such as forced marriage, restriction of movement or denial of land and property ownership, as well as acceptance of marital rape, were common. In 2018, a follow up survey using the same methodology in the same provinces was undertaken. The report on any changes between the 2014 and 2018 surveys is expected to be published in early 2019.