A new program to help support safe ongoing market access during the COVID-19 pandemic was launched today.
The Markets Economic Recovery and Inclusion (MERI) program is supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership and aims to educate market vendors and consumers to limit the spread of COVID-19 while also making markets safer for all.
The program will also help guide and strengthen market administrations to be accountable and transparent in the day-to-day running of the facilities. The rollout of the MERI program will be in compliance with the PNG Government’s directives under the ‘New Normal’ policy.
Prime Minister James Marape and Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp together with representatives from the MERI Task Force launched the program.
Prime Minister Marape thanked the Australian Government for its unwavering support and outlined his Government’s on-going commitment to major urban and rural markets as ‘distinct and special places’ within PNG society.
“The majority of our people raise their incomes through the informal sector, selling at local and district markets that provide livelihoods and food security to millions of women and their families.
Their safe, controlled and gradual reopening and recovery with increased accountability is a priority for this Government under our “Niupela Dei, Niupela Rot policy,” Prime Minister Marape said.
Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp welcomed the launch of the MERI Program and said it exemplified one aspect of Australia’s support to the nation’s economic recovery under the recently signed Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership.
PNG is Australia’s close friend and partner and our support for the country’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 is designed to ensure the nation remains resilient during these unprecedented times,” High Commissioner Philp said.
The MERI program has also been supported by the Department of Community Development and Religion and UN Women to promote inclusivity in markets by making them safer for all vendors and buyers including women, youth and people living with disabilities.
“MERI will work to ensure markets are safer and are more inclusive for women and People with a Disability through a number of measures including COVID-19 awareness information, governance education and training, new market sanitation infrastructure and safety equipment” said UN Women Country Representative Ms. Beatrice Tabeu.