The Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB) is the largest island in the Solomons Island Archipelago, situated on the border between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Despite being more culturally, linguistically, and geographically aligned to the Solomon Islands chain to the south, ARoB was politically absorbed into the Australian-administered Territory of Papua New Guinea after World War II, and ultimately into the independent nation of PNG in 1975. Following a devastating conflict through the 1990s, a Peace Agreement was signed in 2001 which included a requirement for a referendum on its political future. The overwhelming vote for independence in the 2019 referendum means that Bougainville’s political future is still a very current question.

Quick Stats


  • Population – 300,000 (as of 2019)

  • GDP- USD 1,100 (as of 2021, PNG National Research Institute)

  • Climate- Tropical rainforest climate. Min 19 C; Max 28 C

  • Languages- Official languages- English and Tok Pisin. Regional languages- 21 indigenous languages

  • Currency- Bougainville Kina (BVK)

  • Human Development Index- 0.597 (as of 2021, Global Data Lab)



VSA's Development Plans for Bougainville


As per the 2011 census, the median age of Bougainville is just 19 years, with over 39% of its population being under the age of 15. In an effort to increase enrolment in schools, the PNG government introduced the Tuition Fee Free Education (TFFE) policy in 2012. Under this policy, the burden of paying the school fees is taken away from the families, while the government provides a subsidy to the schools based on the enrolment numbers. This move has resulted in a tremendous increase in school enrolments and retention rates. However, the major cause of concern is that the government subsidy doesn’t accommodate for major facility upgrades thus resulting in overcrowded classrooms, inadequate classroom infrastructure, poor teacher housing facilities, and an overall insufficiency in effectively dealing with higher enrolment numbers as a result of the TFFE policy.


90% Bougainvilleans reside in rural areas.

There are 7 lower secondary schools and 4 upper secondary schools.

1 in 4 Children will reach upper secondary school due to the scarcity of schools.


Our Education Partners:

ABG Department of Community Development

VSA partners with the ABG Department of Community Development to impart quality education to the children of Bougainville. The Bougainville Department of Community Development came into operation in 2014. The Department is headed by a secretary and while headquartered in Buka, has staff and representatives operating in the sub-regions and districts of Bougainville. VSA UniVol representatives have taken up the role of a Youth Development Programmes Assistant (YDPA) in Buka and Arawa to be a core children’s worker to achieve our goal of attaining sustainable development by imparting quality education to the children in the region.  

  • Focus Area – Education
  • Sustainable Development Goal- Quality Education
  • Volunteering Assignment- UniVol


Department of Education, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

VSA partners with the Department of Education in the Autonomous Bougainville Region with the purpose of supporting the department to develop robust education plans, sustainability, and reliance. Our volunteers are currently situated in Arawa to impart quality education to the children of Bougainville.

  • Focus Area – Education
  • Sustainable Development Goal- Quality Education
  • Volunteering Assignment- ESOL and TSOL



Pre-crisis ARoB ranked first among the provinces on life expectancy and lowest in terms of infant mortality. However, the crisis left large portions of the population unable to access basic health services or medication. ARoB’s health indicators were highlighted by an increase in communicable diseases and a dramatic increase in maternal and childhood mortality rates. Today, ARoB health officials are increasingly concerned about crisis-related mental health issues and substance abuse, especially among youths.


59.6 Average Life Expectancy (as of 2000)

55 deaths per 1000 live births

Infant Mortality Rate (as of 2000)

87% Antenatal Care Coverage (as of 2000)


Our Health Partners:

Department of Health, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Buin Health Centre (BHC) has a team of clinical staff, mostly nurses, with formal qualifications and training. However, gaps in unit management have been identified, ranging from rostering and staff management to monitoring clinical standards and budgeting. VSA volunteers as senior nurses and unit managers are contributing to improving a wide range of nursing management skills that are needed to run a unit within the BHC. Nursing graduates are well-skilled and trained to deliver nursing care, however, the only nursing school in Bougainville lacks the resources to extend the curriculum to cover other skills required by senior unit managers, which is where our volunteers are extending their support, skills, and knowledge.

  • Focus Area- Health and Well-Being
  • Sustainable Development Goal- Good Health and Well-Being
  • Volunteering Assignment- Unit Nurse Mentor