In the small rural town of Kikori, Gulf Province, local youth are piloting an innovative garbage initiative, called the Garbage-Free Kikori Collaboration (GFKC), to achieve their goal of a cleaner, healthier, garbage-free community.
Established in 2019, GFKC provides an opportunity for youth to collaborate with community leaders on how improve waste management systems by teaching them to conduct waste audits and build platforms to collect, sort, count and weigh garbage.
Despite challenges of the global Coronavirus pandemic, community support for the initiative continued to grow, resulting in the launch of the 2020 Kikori School Recycling Challenge.
The six week challenge was implemented in partnership with the Piku Biodiversity Network (PBN), Community Development Initiative Foundation (CDI), Digicel PNG Foundation and ExxonMobil PNG.
Commencing in October 2020, seven schools along the Kikori River participated, including Kikori Secondary School, Kikori Primary School, Kopi Primary School, Aird Hills Primary School, Veiru Primary School, Bisi Primary School and Kitomave SDA Primary School.
Each school team, comprising of ten students, needed to complete their task of building items out of garbage to demonstrate recycling. As well as being equipped with tools and stationary the teams attended weekly mentoring sessions from PBN and CDI.
The competition concluded on 20 November at Kitomave SDA Primary School where students dressed in team colours to present their items to a panel of local community leaders who acted as guest judges to select the top three teams.
Winners included Kopi Primary School who built a battery-operated helicopter, Kikori Primary School who built a windmill that when blown generated electricity for Christmas lights displayed on a Christmas tree and Aird Hills Primary School who created an array of household ornaments such as vases, flower pots and plastic flowers.
Mrs Hape, a veteran teacher at Kikori Secondary School told students how proud she was of the innovation displayed in the products built, while Community Leader, Mr Kenneth Korokai, echoed this sentiment noting many of the items built by students were not only solutions to garbage issues faced by river communities but also other issues like lack of electricity.
Mr Andrew Barry, Managing Director at ExxonMobil PNG said the company is proud to continue its partnership with PBN and collaborate with its network to ensure Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) unique biodiversity is protected for generations to come.
“The Kikori River is home to some of PNG’s most unique plant and animal species that have withstood the test of time and we all have a role to play in ensuring their longevity.
“The GFKC initiative is just one example of how our partnership with PBN is playing a leading role in educating communities, building knowledge and fostering conservation efforts from an early age,” Mr Barry said.
The 2020 Kikori Schools Recycling Challenge conclusion coincided with World Children’s Day and World Rivers Day and provided a platform for the community to celebrate students and the Kikori River.
Ms Yolarnie Amepou, Director at Piku Biodiversity Network, said everybody has the potential to contribute to solving different issues we are faced with, GFKC, along with the Kikori School Recycling Challenge, demonstrate this.
“This activity allowed us to work with schools, educate and create awareness to all involved about solutions to garbage and garbage management. It also allowed us to give students supervised hands on experience, boosting their confidence, team building and problem-solving skills,” Ms Amepou said.
The six week challenge was managed by Ms Amepou along with Ms Margaret Kila, Executive officer at Community Development Initiative Foundation, and demonstrated the incredible abilities of Kikori youth in showcasing the Garbage-Free Kikori Collaboration.