In Papua New Guinea, there are more than 800 languages spoken. More than 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and some of these areas are extremely remote. With 20 provinces, 89 districts, 313 local-level governments and 6,131 wards the challenges for policy makers and service delivery agencies are substantial. The 1995 reforms to the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-level
Governments were significant in relation to decentralization of public administration to the district level in the hope of improved service delivery. An ongoing reform process is expected to simplify administrative arrangements, increase accountability and ensure that funds are spent where they are most needed. It is essential that any reform process is carefully monitored to detect evidence of change.
The ability to monitor the progress of policy and administrative reforms is limited unless there is up-to-date, accurate and relevant information that can be disaggregated to the level of the district. This will help governments to better understand the unique needs of each district, to focus on areas most in need and to identify where there are signs of improvement, no change or deterioration.
The NRI Provincial and District Profiles have been prepared to draw attention to the need for information at the district level. They provide basic information and establish key socioeconomic indicators related to services at the district level. This will establish a baseline from which individual districts can monitor their progress over time. These profiles can be used by public administrators and policy makers to monitor the progress of districts and to assist in planning and policy development.
There have been a number of exercises where information and analysis has been focused at the district level. The Papua New Guinea Rural Development Handbook and the NEFC’s Review of Intergovernmental Financing Arrangements: District Development Index, among others. Although these are useful resources, the NRI believes that much more can be done to collect and publish a broad range of district level indicators related to services and the monitoring of these over time.