Background & Statement of development needs

Development context

The island of Kiriwina is the largest in a group of islands off the east coast of Papua New Guinea referred to as the Trobriand Islands.  The islands are flat coral atolls with a hot and humid climate year round.  The main government settlement is the town of Losuia, which includes a hospital, a school, a government office, and a small wharf where all supplies to the island arrive by boat.  Losuia has electricity provided by a diesel powered generator, with most of the houses in the township connected.  The island has a WW2 airstrip which allows commercial flights from the mainland several times a week.  There is a mobile phone service available on the island, making direct communication with the mainland relatively good.

Overall, the population of Kiriwina is around 25,000.  Most of the inhabitants live in traditional settlements of between 200 to 500 people, with no running water, electricity or sanitary facilities.  Toilets are basic communal pit toilets located in the bush in designated areas surrounding the village.  Housing is built of bush materials, sometimes incorporating tin roofs, which are highly sought after because of their relative durability and ability to harvest rainwater.  However rainwater tanks are few and far between and safe potable water is always an issue.  Personal hygiene is difficult.

Kiriwinans are mostly subsistence gardeners and rely on produce grown from their own gardens to survive, yams and taro being the main food source.  Sweet potato, bananas, leafy greens and beans are also grown, and occasionally chicken or fish provide protein.  However population pressure and poor growing conditions as a result of droughts often result in severe food shortages. Fishing provides some coastal men with a cash income, and weekend markets take place for sale and exchange of food, betel nuts and other essentials.  There are several trade stores on the island providing western merchandise and staple items such as kerosene, rice, tobacco, cloth as well as other western items.  Cash is provided mainly from family members who have left the island and work elsewhere in the country.

Traditional belief of spirits, sorcery and the practice of magic still exist, sometimes impacting on the health of pregnant women, young mothers and infants.  Pregnant women mostly give birth in the village instead of going to the hospital.  In the absence of western medicine, and sometimes by choice, traditional use of plants and herbs as medicine still takes place.  The small hospital at Losuia is supplemented by poorly stocked medical posts within walking distance of most villages, but the lack of adequate medical care is an ongoing problem.  Infant mortality in particular is high.

Development needs

The particular development needs Caring for Kiriwina focusses on are the health of pregnant women, women in childbirth, newborn infants and children.


Kiriwinan linguistic expert, the Reverend Ralph Lawton is dedicating his time to writing and translating the Primer books and with the volunteered assistance of Lawton Design pty ltd will endeavour to publish Primer books for the Kiriwian people.

Donations will be used to print and distribute these much needed education resources. Click here


We have been excited to be able to co-ordinate donation delivery of educational supplies of pens  and books to the Losuia Primary School, Oyabia Elementary School and Oulakai village school.


We are determined to continue Caring for the Kiriwian people.


We have created a network of dedicated volunteers to help in the ongoing packing and distribution of the disposible Birthing Kits. Any donations will be used to purchase contents, freight to the Island, purchase of warm jackets for the midwives, purchase of kerosene for the lamps, keeping the mobile accounts for our constant communication with the Island in credit.


A Birthing Kit works by providing the 7 cleans for a clean birth:

  1. Clean birth site – preventing delivery onto the floor
  2. Clean hands – to prevent the birth attendant transmitting germs to mother and baby
  3. Clean ties – to prevent bleeding from the umbilical cord for mother and baby.
  4. Clean razor – to reduce infection caused by other implements
  5. Clean gauze – to wipe away birth canal secretions from the eyes, to decrease future eye infections
  6. Clean umbilical cord – washing and drying the stumps prevents infection
  7. Clean perineum


1m x 1m plastic sheet for the mother to lie on
A piece of soap
2 gloves
3 gauze squares
3 cord ties or 2 clamps
Sterile scalpel blade. All contained in a small press seal plastic bag.











We have translated the instructions on the packaging into the Kiriwian language. We have strict rules on disposal of the kits and direct communication via mobile phones with Kiriwian nationals on the island who supply a weekly report on proceedings.

We supply over 100 midwives (Village Health Volunteers) from the following villages: Kavataria, Mulosaida, Kwemtula, Osesuia, Oyuvayova, Tukwaukwa, Wabutuma, Luya, Bwetalu, Loubuwa, Siviyagila, Kudukweikela, Kepwapu, Kuluwa, Buduweilaka. We have supplied 30 uniforms and need to supply another 70 midwife uniforms.

Thank you to the midwife co-ordinators: Lois, Florence, Dorothy, Dulcie, Dorin and Roda

In-Country managers: Toks Bwaina and Lepani Ahab and Mr Ariston Pesiana.

We would like to thank the following people for all their support:

Kylie and Diana Adams, Sue Thomas, Lone Sumbulla (our Brisbane representative), Dr Nadg Farag, Mary Jonmanssen, Jeff Keating, Monica Hitchinson, The Lawton Family (Ralph, Doug, Dave, Jenny and Jodi Lawton), Toks Bwaina, Dinah Siotama, The Yarralumla Uniting Church,  P&O Cruises Joanna Dyson, Entertainment Director Pacific Aria and the Global Development Group.

Please Donate. Click here