The Solomon Islands faces some of the most difficult challenges in the Pacific. Ethnic violence, fragile state institutions,corruption and increasing crime have affected the country’s development.
Political and economic collapse in the early 2000s and an appeal for international help from the Solomon Islands Government led to the intervention of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), a regional peace-keeping force which included support by New Zealand. RAMSI restored peace and disarmed militias, but its presence created an artifically swollen economy until the end of the military component in 2013.
The Solomon Islands currently has the lowest per capita income in the Pacific region. The bulk of the country’s 609,000 people rely on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods. Sustainable use of the country’s rich natural resources is critical. Yet over-exploitation, particularly in the logging industry, is causing serious environmental damage. Climate change is leaving coastal communities vulnerable. Disasters such as cyclones and flooding are becoming more frequent and more intense.
A third of rural people lack access to safe water and over half the people living in Honiara’s poorest communities have no sanitation facilities.
Women in the Solomon Islands
Gender based violence (GBV) is alarmingly prevalent in the Solomon Islands. Gender norms encourage men to perpetuate inequality and controlling behaviour and the payment of bride price is still common in some provinces. Seventy-three per cent of men and women believe that in certain cases, violence against women is justifiable. The government’s development of legislation and measures to protect women was slow and the country is unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for gender by 2015.
The Family Support Centre (FSC) is a local NGO established in 1995 to address GBV, sexual abuse and child abuse. It is staffed by experienced, trained professionals who offer confidential and supportive legal and counselling services to those affected by violence or abuse. FSC run educational programmes, maintain a resource library and raise awareness of GBV and women and children’s rights. They work closely with support agencies such as the police, as well as NGOs. Oxfam partners with FSC to provide funding and support for counselling and legal assistance to women affected by GBV. Through these programmes, we challenge the acceptance of GBV.
Tens of thousands of people in and around Honiara were left homeless by flash flooding and heavy rains that hit the Solomon Islands in April 2014. Your donations not only enabled Oxfam to act swiftly to provide emergency assistance, but they also helped people to rebuild their means of earning a living.
In consultation with Solomon Islands government and other NGOs, Oxfam launched an immediate response to the floods, including assessing damage and providing technical expertise to evacuation centre management. We distributed hygiene kits to help prevent the spread of disease, as well as emergency food, cooking equipment, Jerrycans for water, tarpaulins for shelter,and and mosquito nets to fend off a spike in malaria from a waterlogged landscape.
We have also helped people to rebuild their livelihoods by providing garden tools and seeds, training and support.