In the aftermath of volcanic eruptions on Papua New Guinea's Gazelle Peninsula in 1994, the World Bank has worked with partners to help rebuild infrastructure from scratch in several communities, relocating thousands of villagers to safer ground, providing them with new water supplies, and a new school for their children. The project also ensured the sustainability of social and economic well-being while minimizing the adverse impacts of future volcanic eruptions on lives, property and livelihoods in the Gazelle Peninsula.
After 50 years of dormancy, two volcanoes in Rabaul, Mt. Tavurvur and Mt. Vulcan, erupted in September1994 for the third time in 100 years. The volcanoes destroyed almost the entire physical, social and economic infrastructure and facilities in Rabaul Town, and the surrounding areas were completely destroyed, severely damaged, or heavily contaminated by ash. While deaths and injuries were relatively low, around 30,000 residents lost their homes and about two-thirds of them sought permanent resettlement away from hazardous areas. Estimates from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) placed public asset losses from the eruption at around US$280 million, with comparable losses for private homes and businesses. In light of extensive damage to the town of Rabaul and the persistence of hazardous conditions, the national and provincial authorities decided to resettle the entire affected population in new permanent settlements throughout the Peninsula.
The project was designed to support the Medium Term Restoration Program of the East New Britain Provincial Administration Program. This initiative aimed to restore the social and economic well-being of the people of East New Britain to levels that prevailed prior to the 1994 eruption. The project worked to strengthen the capacity for service provision and the resilience of communities to any future disasters. Additionally, the project improved quality of life in displaced communities, rebuilt transport infrastructure and social services, and reestablished the township of Rabaul as a regional port.
In particular, there were two innovative approaches in this project that contributed to its overall effectiveness:
There were no trade-offs between simultaneously building new systems and delivering results. In a foreshadowing of the current focus on 'implementation support', the Bank helped the Gazelle Restoration Authority (GRA) develop its own systems for all aspects of the works program. The East New Britain Provincial Administration had pre-existing systems that were transferred to the GRA; their early systems provided a good institutional foundation for promoting quality and integrity and, in doing so, nurtured public expectations of transparency and fairness.
Secondly, the project nurtured involvement by several stakeholder groups, including the communities themselves and the private sector. Unusually for an organization dominated by staff with engineering skill sets, the value of 'softer' competences like communication and team-building were not neglected by GRA, and this meant that for members of both host and resettled communities, communications and relations with GRA and the project were generally viewed as good by the project's beneficiaries. Contractors and the Chamber of Commerce expressed a high level of satisfaction with GRA, a confidence built upon perceptions that GRA and its Bank-financed project was well organized and transparent in its dealings and decisions.
The project, accommodated between10,000-12,000 people in relocation sites, and connected 10,000 people to new water supplies that reduced the costs of trucking in water to users. The project also constructed a new community school for 880 pupils ages 8-12 in Kokopo Town.
Overall, the Gazelle Peninsula effort assisted the government in providing services and ensured the sustainability of social and economic well-being in reaching five key outcomes:
- By June 2003, the project had completed rebuilding infrastructure and services and had reached at least an 80% occupancy rate in all relocation areas.
- By June, 2003 it had assisted in the approval of a revised zoning plan that prohibited redevelopment in the devastated areas of Rabaul and by the project's closure in December 2007, it had completed port-related protection works in the town.
- By June 2003, 75% of other infrastructure, utilities, and social services under the first phase of the project had been completed.
- In1999-2003, the project helped lay a framework and an institutional plan for long-term development, as well as plans for improved coastal zone management and the mitigation of coastal zone hazards.
- By mid-2003, the provincial authority had approved detailed arrangements to integrate the GRA into its structure.
The project directly benefited as many as 12,000 people from the Gazelle Peninsula, who had their livelihoods shattered and their homes made uninhabitable by the twin volcanic eruptions in 1994. They now have new homes in safer areas, access to sustainable public services, and greater protection from future eruptions. Additionally, thousands more in other communities stand to benefit from the adoption of the successful development model used in the Gazelle Peninsula reconstruction effort.
There was a large amount of parallel co-financing for the project from a number of sources. IBRD's US$25.3 million loan complimented by grants of US$20,000 from the Rabaul Volcanological Disaster Relief Committee, US$40,000 from the Cocoa and Coconut Institute PNG, US$180,000 from the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Harbours Board, and US$4.2 million from the PNG Sustainable Development Fund. Additionally, the European Union (EU) provided US$7.5 million, the Asian Development Bank provided US$150,000, and Australia's AusAID provided a grant of US$11.9 million. Papua New Guinea itself (including national, provincial and district governments) also contributed US$14.5 million. The initial appraisal estimate was US$39.5 million but with additional financing from the EU, AusAID, and Papua New Guinea, the actual project cost of US$65.4 was fully met.
Toward the Future
The GRA proved itself to be a successful and efficient partner throughout the project. The Authority had a reputation as a well-designed, consultative public works program that provided high quality work, delivered from a predominantly nationally-staffed team. This good standing meant that many lessons have been taken from the Second Gazelle Restoration Project to be applied in other similar projects. Additionally, a number of the Authority's contract and quality control mechanisms have been adopted by government departments in PNG and are being examined by other Pacific countries.
Of particular relevance to other projects were two specific factors that contributed to the overall effectiveness: the development of home-grown systems for all aspects of the works program, while basing them as much on their own internally-driven initiative as on fiduciary standards imposed by external agencies; and the inclusion of softer competences like communication and team-building to ensure that the project was perceived as being firm but fair.