25 Feb 2021

Hope donors will help Bougainville rekindle innovation

4:08 pm on 25 February 2021

A Bougainville MP is hoping for donor support to harness the region's inventiveness.

East coast of Bougainville.

East coast of Bougainville. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Johnny Blades

Emmanuel-Carlos Kaetavara said during the civil war Bougainvilleans were forced to be innovative, using abandoned machinery to build small hydro plants, which were used to make guns.

Coconut oil was refined to produce ethanol to power moter vehicles, but Kaetavara said this innovation wasn't further fostered when foreign donors returned after the conflict.

According to him, they would be vital now as the region pushed to develop its economy, in the hope of becoming independent from Papua New Guinea.

"But I think in terms of getting Bougainvilleans to believe in themselves, the young generation that missed out on a lot of school and a lot of them find time to go into these areas [to] explore the development of these kinds of mechanisms.

"I think it is an opportunity for the government to tap into and target the lost generation, basically."

He said there were some examples of ongoing inventiveness, such as the crashing plants that have been built for alluvial gold miners in the Panguna area.

Kaetavara also noted that the biofuel technology developed during the war is now being misapplied to produce homebrew.