Japan contributes USD1,9 million to secure women’s livelihoods during COVID- 19 pandemic

Thursday 1 April 2021

The Government of Japan has recently contributed USD 1.9 million to the  UN Women’s Safe and Prosperous District Programme to secure women’s livelihoods during the Covid-19  pandemic in the country.

Through the support of the Japan Government, UN Women will strengthen existing work in Tari, Wewak and Alotau markets on market infrastructure and access to finance for market vendors.

A statement released by the Embassy of Japan and UN Women Office, said Papua New Guinea has begun to experience a second wave of COVID-19 with rapid community transmission in several provinces.

As of  March 20 2021, the number of confirmed cases in PNG is now 3,359 across 18 of the country’s 22 provinces with a death toll of 36.

“Since the emergence of the pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 has devastated the livelihoods of many families in PNG.”

“A UN Women rapid assessment revealed over 82 per cent of reduction in household income levels for informal economy workers.”

Most women are economically active in the production of food or the trading of goods, with the points of exchange into the cash economy being provided by markets.

Market vendors reported over 51 per cent decrease in market daily earnings following the introduction of state of emergency measures in 2020.

According to the statement, about 70 percent  of this grant from Japan is earmarked for infrastructure improvements in Tari and Wewak.

The Wewak market was constructed through the support of the Japanese Government and now requires upgrades. In Tari, UN Women is partnering with the Provincial Government to build a new market.

The Hela Governor has contributed 583,000USD towards the construction of the market and a further 670,000USD has now been provided by Japan.

These markets need improvements made in the sanitary, access to clean water facilities and security, making them COVID-19 safer. UN Women will mobilise women users to influence the market design and provide technical input to ensure market infrastructure that meets the specific needs of women vendors and complies with COVID control regulations.

Japan recently completed construction of a new market in Alotau. With support from the Australian Government, UN Women has supported market governance systems in this new market.

Through this Japan support, women will receive training in various trades to enable them to engage in new economic activities thereby improving their recovery and resilience. A revolving fund will be provided in all 3 sites (Alotau, Wewak and Tari), enabling women and men to access finance to catalyse recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

UN Women will collaborate with UNCDF and Women’s Microbank to provide financial literacy and promote the use of digital financing tools. This is expected to ensure high repayment rates, thereby allowing more market vendors to benefit from the revolving fund in the future.

UN Women is grateful for the growing support to improving the working conditions in markets across the country. Women constitute over 60% of market vendors thereby making them the main beneficiary of these improvements to market infrastructure, governance, and security arrangements.

“This generous support from Japan is very timely as it comes when Papua New Guinea is experiencing a second  wave of COVID-19.

“This funding complements existing support from the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the European Union, allowing UN Women to undertake interventions to stop further regression in the empowerment of women in Papua New Guinea,” said Caroline Nyamayemombe, Acting Head of UN Women in PNG.

Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Papua New Guinea, His Excellency Mr Kuniyuki Nakahara states that “The market is the center of the local economy, and many women are involved in its operation.

“ Since many people gather in the market, the role of women working there is the key to preventing the spread of infection of COVID19. It is very significant for the Japanese Embassy to be able to collaborate again with UN WOMEN on this project to support women’s empowerment in the Alotau and Wewak markets, which were constructed and rehabilitated with the support of Japan.”

The Securing women’s livelihoods during COVID 19_ Prevention, Response and Recovery project is expected to be completed in one year, beginning March 2021 to March 2022.

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