BLOG SURF: Land acquisition

When I arrived in Papua New Guinea in 2013, I sought out to make ADB’s operations more efficient. I wanted to shake things up, and bring change.

But I soon realized there would be a very steep learning curve. Land acquisition, for instance, was a major challenge when it came to implement safeguards for ADB projects in PNG, where 97% of the land is under customary ownership.

There is a common belief that land acquisition can only be resolved with finality on site, not beforehand as ADB procedures mandate. This did not make sense to me.

If we can get a new road that cuts travel time from 36 to 1 hour, connects people to markets, hospitals, schools, or airports, should it be built on our customary land? This was question we should ask the community.

To me, the answer is clearly ‘yes,’ but in reality it’s not that simple.In mid-2014 we received a complaint from an individual who claimed that his assets had been adversely affected.