Crime is one of the most serious problems affecting urban development and management in Papua New Guinea, a country rich in natural resources, but one that has failed to reap maximum returns due in part to low urban sector investment levels, which, in turn, result in high crime rates. Crime in urban Papua New Guinea is often accompanied by violence, which has seriously eroded both the social fabric of the Port Moresby, the capital city, as well as brought many aspects of normal life to a standstill. Whilst increasing rural-urban migration is blamed for these ills, there are many causes of urban crime encompassing social, cultural, environmental, institutional, and economic factors. The Safer Port Moresby Initiative was designed to: identify the main causes of crime; build broad-based partnerships by testing alternative interventions to reduce crime and improve human security; and develop and agree on a longer-term strategy of intervention based on lessons learned, in preparation for a follow-up Phase of support to assist a "Coalition of Partners" to implement an agreed Action Plan.
Project support commenced in March 2002 through a Technical Support Team established in the Department of Community Development, which acted as the Secretariat to a broad-based, cross-sectoral Coordinating Committee comprising representatives of the central government, the National Capital Development Commission, the police, the justice system, churches, NGOs and the private sector. A "Diagnosis of Human Insecurity" was prepared from an "Institutional Survey" of the Coordinating Committee partners, a "Youth and Crime Survey" was conducted, a community-based "Social Crime Mapping" exercise was undertaken, and "Good Practices" were analysed. Demonstration interventions included "Safer Gordon's Market", "Liao's Tyre", and "Burns Peak Community Safety Plan". Partner negotiations agreed on a draft "Strategy of Intervention" based on increased support to the law and justice system, stronger community development, a recognition of the importance of traditional interventions and the local culture (especially mediation techniques and traditional courts), and a resolve to strengthen urban design and management - supported by extensive human resource capacity building and institutional strengthening amongst the partnership. Core Action Plan interventions were recommended to mobilize funds in support of Phase 2: Implementation.
There is an Increased awareness of the root causes of crime and their linkage to social and economic factors, such as insecure tenure, limited access to basic urban services, poor urban governance and unemployment. Innovative interventions were tested and documented for up-scaled replication. A nascent "Partnership against Crime" was established to advocate for the implementation of the agreed Strategy through a draft Phase 2 proposal under discussion between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the international community.