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Pacific Island small states (PSS)

Travelling great distances to improve lives of rural Solomon Islands communities

Alison Ofotalau's picture
Map courtesy of Wikipedia through a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Taking development to the outlying provinces of Solomon Islands is not an easy ride. I found this out when going on a site visit to the Rural Development Program (RDP) at the country’s far western province of Choiseul.

At the Northwest region of Choiseul province where the island faces open waters that span to the Micronesian archipelago of the Pacific lies a village called Polo. The Polo community has a primary school that was established in 1957 when Solomon Islands was still a British Protectorate, prior to independence in 1978. Since its inception, the Polo school never had a permanent classroom building until two years ago when through the RDP participatory process, the community identified the school as their main need.

Development practitioners: technocrats, missionaries or diplomats?

Michael Woolcock's picture

During a recent ‘Justice for the Poor’ mission to Vanuatu, our team had an illuminating meeting with a group of forty village chiefs in a community hall. The chiefs are the primary source of order and justice across the many islands within the archipelago. Most of them have received little, if any, formal education, their authority resting on their traditional status within the community.

Rebuilding paradise – Samoa's recovery from the 2009 tsunami

Tobias Haque's picture

On the surface, the pace of life in the Pacific island country of Samoa is slow. Island time. That’s an impression that’s reinforced when touring the idyllic string of resorts and beach fales (small timber and thatch tourist cottages, often without walls and open to the tropical breeze) along the South East coast of Upolu, Samoa. You can watch the heat rise in a haze across the ridiculously tranquil blue waters and golden sands, as coconut palms wave, and tourists enjoy a weekend drink in the seafront restaurant of the locally-owned and recently rebuilt Tafua beach fales.

Delivering in the remotest islands: Tikopia

Edith Bowles's picture
William Kesi
Because boats to and from Tikopia are infrequent, William Kesi had to wait a couple of months before he could leave the island.

William Kesi had to hitch a ride with a passing cruise ship to get from Tikopia back to Lata, the capital of Solomon Islands’ easternmost province, Temotu. William is a community helper with the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP), which uses community driven development to support small-scale community infrastructure. The program was officially launched in 2008, and is supported by Solomon Islands Government, AusAID, European Union, IFAD, and the World Bank. Now in its third cycle of grants, the program is beginning to reach not only the more densely populated areas of the six main islands of the country, but also some of the most remote and underserved communities in the country.

Looking to the skies in Kiribati—La Niña and rainfall variability in the Central Pacific

Carlo Iacovino's picture
Rainfall is essential to recharge the freshwater lens that lies beneath coral atolls in Kiribati. Without it, the i-Kiribati people would not be able to grow plants and crops vital to their livelihood.

Freshwater can be extremely scarce in the Republic of Kiribati, home to over 100,000 people scattered across 22 islands in the Central Pacific. Each year after a long dry season, significant rainfall is generally expected to arrive during November or December. Yet over the last few months only a tiny amount of rain has fallen. The islands are dry.

This is consistent with forecasts that predict La Niña conditions will result in below normal rainfall during the 2010-11 wet season across the Gilbert Islands of Kiribati.

Learning about Airports

Chris Bennett's picture

The World Bank employs a variety of specialists in different disciplines, often with abstract and hard to understand titles. Not me. When people ask what I do for the Bank I say “I build roads”. This often brings laughs from other Bank staff, but it’s true.

Solomon Islanders enjoying cheaper calls as competition is increased in telecommunications

Alison Ofotalau's picture

Competition in the telecommunications sector in Solomon Islands has officially arrived. bemobile held its launching ceremony on  Aug 31, making it the first competitor to Solomon Telekom (known as “Our Telekom”) effectively ending the previous monopoly. This is the result of the Government’s policy of reforming the telecoms market in Solomon Islands including promoting competition, developing a new legal framework, and setting up a new regulator, the Telecommunications Commission of Solomon Islands (TCSI).

Helping Rural Clinics Work in Solomon Islands

Hamish Wyatt's picture
Hayleen Dusaru is the Moli clinic's registered nurse

I recently spent almost a week calf deep in mud, shooting around islands, and speaking to beneficiaries and community helpers of the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP). The trip was an illuminating and uplifting opportunity to get out into rural areas and meet the people that are experiencing the direct benefits of one of the World Bank’s most dynamic projects within Solomon Islands.

Terms like ‘bottom up approach’ and ‘grass roots focus’ are catch-cries that are often heard but not always followed within development projects. However, spending some time in villages that are controlling the funds and direction of infrastructure projects and seeing clear and sometimes astounding benefits from them reinforces the principle that this program is not offering simple lip-service or superficial checklists of community involvement. This is really what community direction of projects looks like. (The Country Manager in Solomon Islands, Edith Bowles, has blogged about this  program before, read her views on its agricultural aspects and on the effects of the islands’ remoteness.)

Earthquake in Vanuatu highlights importance of telecommunications reform

Aleta Moriarty's picture
Everyone was on their phone—ringing loved ones, ringing offices, ringing those that mattered—to get reassurance that people are okay, to check on damage, to ring for advice on the threat of a tsunami.

Rehabilitating roads in Kiribati - the sustainable way

Chris Bennett's picture

Over time I have developed certain ‘home truths’. Among them is that the size of the country is inversely proportional to the length of the immigration and customs form, and the aggressiveness of dogs encountered when running is a reflection of their owners. In both cases this was proved true during my first mission to Kiribati.

In Vanuatu, Let There Be Light

David Stein's picture

David Stein is the founder of Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association (VANREPA), whose Solar-Powered Desalinator Would Serve as Model for Small Coastal Communities for the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu was a finalist in DM2009.  In this post, David talks about a crippling human, economic, and environmental problem shared by 260 million mostly rural people in poor countries globally.

Most of the people of Vanuatu spend half their day in darkness.  For them, there is no electric grid.  Instead they must rely on kerosene and other polluting and sometimes dangerous power sources.  But safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and accessible power sources are coming on the market in Vanuatu and other, mostly rural countries in the Pacific islands and elsewhere. 

The devices are are battery-charged, easy to maintain, and simple to install, and they outperform other rural options like "two-light" solar home systems.  Costing from US$20-$100, depending on the product type, they are cheapter than solar home systems, which are priced from US$800-$1,000, and far more affordable than kerosene, which can cost a rural family US$30 a month.

The devices are described as"picosolar" ("pico" meaning very small).  They usually consist of a solar panel and a combination light emitting diode (LED) and built-in battery.

Thanks to a partnership between VANWODS (Vanuatu’s premier micro-finance institution), VANREPA (Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association), and Green Power (VANREPA’s “trading arm”), thousands of rural Vanuatu households are enjoying solar-powered electric lighting this holiday season.

DM2009 as 'One of Washington's Best-Kept Secrets'

Tom Grubisich's picture

We've been exchanging emails with many of the hundred DM2009 finalists to get their collected thoughts on the competition.  Many of them had good things to say about the event and its programs, and how Development Marketplace could better their projects' chances, even if they weren't among the 26 winners.  But sprinkled among the positive assessments was some criticism.

Ben Stein, who heads a reverse-osmosis desalinization project to provide drinking water for 48 households on Rah Island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, praised Development Marketplace for "starting to understand what social entrepreneurship is," and singled out the knowledge exchange sessions.  But Stein says something important was missing: "People.  The World Bank is not a very 'people-friendly' or public place.  As there are no more Peoples' Choice awards [given in previous years' competitions], it appears that most Bank employees aren't willing to spend the time to look at the DM.  Perhaps future DMs should be held at a more public venue and really marketed to the interested public, or find some way to make the Bank a more accessible place and really market the event to the interested public.  Also, there was so much talk about social media, social marketing, and networking one would think that everyone in DC knew about DM, but in fact it seems to have been one of DC's best-kept secrets."

Powering the Solomon Islands with reliable, affordable energy a challenge

Hamish Wyatt's picture
Residents of Honiara eating dinner during a blackout. Energy in the Solomon Islands can be unreliable and expensive.

A few nights ago, when I returned to my house on the ridges above Solomon Islands capital Honiara, my alarm clock was flashing 2 p.m. It was obviously wrong, and I have stopped relying on it for the time. Instead it is simply a very noisy gauge of how long it has been since the last power outage.

Unreliable energy supply is perhaps one of the harder things to get used to when living in Honiara. Long overdue maintenance being carried out on the city’s diesel chugging generators causes power outages for 72 hours per month on average. What is worse is that this actually seems efficient compared to rural areas which, due to a lack of spare parts and diesel, can lose power for up to a week.


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