Alakasam, Komgi, Matupit, and Raluana - Technology


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The roads in and around the cities in East New Britain are paved; however, the majority of roads which are not in close proximity to the cities are generally packed dirt or ash. These dirt roads are susceptible to washouts and as a result are often rutted or impassable during rainfall as the 2009 H.I.T. team experienced. On these rural roads, a journey of 13 kilometers may take between five and eight hours, while other times they may simply be impossible to pass due to mud and washout. Communities accessed by these types of roads have developed a system of maintenance keeping the roads as passable as possible. Large logs are often placed in the ruts of the road or horizontally covering particularly muddy sections to provide vehicles with enough traction to make it up the steep hills and across the unstable mud. Ruts that are too deep for logs to be effective are usually filled in with rocks to provide traction. The weather conditions in higher elevations make road maintenance a nearly constant job, as the area is prone to frequent heavy rainfall. The road up to Komgi is an example of how this continuous upkeep can vastly improve the roads. Last years group of interns was only able to reach the lowest buying point on the road because of washouts and rough terrain. However, since the beginning of this year employees of Follywell No. 6, Ltd. and members of the Komgi community have been working on improving the road. They have filled in the ravines in the road and put rocks and logs where necessary making it possible to reach the very end of the road, about a kilometer further than last year’s group was able reach.

The communities in the highlands have also found ways to better utilize their rivers and streams. In Alakasam, nearly every river and stream has a waterfall which has a bamboo tube directing the water away from the river like a spout. This tube has one end in the pool at the top of the waterfall while the rest extends directly out over the edge. It is secured to another piece of bamboo or a small log positioned horizontally across the stream; these spouts are used as the main source of drinking water and as natural showers because there is less sediment in the water since the bottom of the stream has not been disturbed.

Dryers are used in both Raluana and Komgi to preserve crops before transport. In Raluana, we were shown coconut dryers, and in Komgi the dryers are used for cardamom. The dryers are raised buildings constructed with raised platforms where the product is distributed. Beneath the platform is a round metal barrel lain on its side. A fire is built in the barrel to evenly distribute heat through the building, drying the coconut or cardamom above.

Date Entered: June 2010