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New Guinea recollections. (Part 5 of 8)

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The Zafilio village water wheel

During the 1970's there was a vibrant co-operative effort by all rural development agencies in PNG to introduce appropriate technologies into villages.

The Melanesian Council of Churches collected ideas from all sources then published the world-standard "Liklik Buk"  a handbook for rural development workers.

Regrettably the momentum generated at that time was not maintained after Independence when both political focus and financial allocations were redirected to urban areas of the country.

Zafilio village is located in the hilly Wareo hinterland of the Finschhafen district, an hours walk beyond the end of a rough 4 wheel drive track winding its way up the mountain from the coast.

Patrilineal societies in PNG often place a disproportionate burden of the physical "work of life" on womenfolk.  Food gardening and preparation, child rearing, firewood collection, as well as contributing to a family cash income.
Two of the highest priorities in developing countries, both then and now, should be the provision of equal educational opportunities for girls, and the introduction of technologies to reduce the workload of women.

Coffee pulpers are small hand-powered machines, (at that time manufactured in England,) which are used to remove the thick outer red skin from the coffee bean, before the bean is fermented in water for 3 days to remove a mucilage covering, then dried in the sun prior to being sold as "parchment coffee" to the factories.

We designed and built these very cheap and simple water wheels, then installed them at several sites throughout the Huon Peninsula specifically to power coffee pulpers…..previously an energy sapping task often left to the women.

The Zafilio village waterwheel was installed in March 1976.

When the author returned for a brief visit to PNG in 1998 the one wheel he had an opportunity to revisit (at Tambare) was still operational.

(For access to all stories in this series click the "view my tags" link on the right of screen then click "png history")

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

11 responses »

  1. Those are such amazing pictures! Wow. You caught a slice of history in those shots! Did you always have your camera while working?

  2. very cool! New Guinea coffee!

  3. I'm so impressed the wheel was still working 20 years later.

  4. Did you always have your camera while working? Unfortunately Freedom, no. At the time I thought it was more important to be "one of the people" while working with them, and not to be going around behaving like a tourist.On balance, I don't think I regret that decision.

  5. very cool! New Guinea coffee! New Guinea Highlands arabica coffee is some of the best in the world.

  6. I'm so impressed the wheel was still working 20 years later. I was quite staggered to find it still working too Pete. They had built a roof to protect it from the weather, so maybe that's why.

  7. Even better, a mod. It's tech at a level that can be handled locally.Some help programs don't have sustainability like this one.

  8. Yes! The empowerment of women, it's only anecdotes I've heard, but hypothetically makes for stronger societies. I love those wheels, very pretty. I love when physics does all the work.

  9. Some help programs don't have sustainability like this one.You successfully predicted Part 6 which I have just posted Pete 🙂

  10. The empowerment of womenAbsolutely essential …..especially in the field of fertility control.

  11. Fascinating.. I've seen similar non-mechanized treatment of coffee in Hawaii…Loving your old photos GOF!


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