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Solomon Islands

The search for King Solomon's gold continues in his namesake Islands

Alison Ofotalau's picture
The Goldridge Mine pit in Solomon Islands

History records that the first European to come to Solomon Islands, Alvaro De Mendana, in 1568 gave the archipelago its name because he believed this area of the South Pacific was where King Solomon got the gold he used to build the Temple of Jerusalem. The Spaniards did search for gold during their exploration of the islands, but somewhat fruitlessly such that they left and never returned.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

Solomon Islands: Bringing agriculture and infrastructure services to rural island communities

Edith Bowles's picture

The expense of operating outboard motor boats means that visits to each community are few and far between.
In December 2008, I spent two and a half days traveling around the Solomon Islands with officers from the government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, which is implementing components of the World Bank’s Rural Development Program (RDP) in Western Province. Jointly funded by the EU and Australia, RDP is the World Bank’s biggest project in Solomon Islands.

In December, the project was just beginning to get going in the provinces. The agriculture workers were looking to the RDP to help restore agriculture extension services. Practically speaking, this means purchasing small boats, outboard motors, fuel, or rehabilitation of offices. At the Ag offices, I was told about the series of dead outboard boat motors lining one wall – including provenance and whatever series of incidents had rendered them inoperable.

Landing in Gizo: Understanding the Solomon Islands

Edith Bowles's picture

The country is often dismissed as the Pacific's failed state, yet conversations with community members and officials reveal clear visions of what a state can provide in terms of services and a role in community life.
The Gizo airport in Solomon Islands has no parking lot, because there is no road – only a jetty out into the lagoon. It took me several minutes and a walk around the solitary airport building to work this out, by which point my plane had already headed back to Honiara, the country’s capital.

The Gizo airstrip, reportedly built for a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 1970s, occupies the entire length of the island of Nusatupe – as a quick look at Google Maps confirms. It is located picturesquely, if ultimately somewhat inconveniently, about two kilometers from the provincial capital island of Gizo. As I was beginning to wonder how I was going to make my way to Gizo, a team from the Government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock fortunately pulled up in an outboard motorboat.

In December, just three months after my arrival in the Solomon Islands to serve as the World Bank’s country manager, I chose Western Province for my second trip out of Honiara. One of the main goals in my first year on the job is to visit each of the nine provinces to begin gaining some understanding of this small but complex country.

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