Trafficking in the Solomon Islands
Human trafficking is an appendage of inhumanity and crime that has innate ties to the broader scope of global poverty. Traffickers take advantage of people in impoverished conditions through predatory work contracts, coerced sex work and exploiting the workers through the largest markets in the world. The small islands that make up the Solomon Islands are an observable microcosm of human trafficking in nearly all its practiced forms. Fortunately, when surveying the pervasiveness of human trafficking in the Solomon Islands, there also is a pathway for ending human trafficking across the world.

The Context

The Solomon Islands is a country that includes six major islands and hundreds of smaller ones dotted across the Oceanic sprawl. Despite its seemingly inconspicuous size, it is a port for incoming and outgoing exploited human labor.  The poverty rate is as high as 31.5% in the Makira province according to the Solomon Islands Household Income and Expenditure Survey.

The Solomon Islands is a country that is economically vulnerable as its main exports require hard labor for a population that is around 600,000 people. The country’s main export is wood and it has a prominent logging industry which is very labor-intensive.  Mining,  agriculture, fishing and palm oil manufacturing and fishing are also labor intensive.

Trafficking in the Solomon Islands

A 2021 report from the United States Department of State revealed the dynamic nature of human trafficking in the Solomon Islands. Work contractors often take vulnerable immigrant laborers from southeast and east Asian nations such as Sri Lanka, The Philippines and North Korea. Then, they bring them to the Solomon Islands as fishermen or timber workers and pay them little to no wage under inhumane conditions.

In addition, traffickers force children who are native to the Solomon Islands into working in labor and sex trafficking in exchange for necessities. The combination of economic vulnerability and low population makes children in poverty-stricken families especially susceptible to becoming trafficking victims.

An American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative report surveyed 406 people from the provinces of Malaita, Guadalcanal, Makira and Western. About 49% cited that they believed victims of human trafficking should be accountable for their own involvement (placing the blame on the victims) and more than 44% did not report their knowledge of human trafficking instances.

The Solomon Islands’ Response

The same U.S. State Department report indicated that the Solomon Islands is a Tier Two nation regarding the degree of human trafficking violations. This indicates that the nation does not meet the standards of the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. However, the nation is in a cooperative state and working towards meeting the standard of Tier One by allocating more funds and bureaucratic efforts toward transparency and response by local officials to address instances of trafficking. The U.S. State Department recommends measures including increasing the minimum age for hazardous work to 18.

Obstacles to a Solution

One key aspect of the global effort to end human trafficking in the Solomon Islands that has not occurred yet is the lack of the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States is the only country of 196 others that has not signed this treaty. However, it is important to consider because the U.S., Mexico and the Philippines are the leading destinations for trafficked victims according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If others hold the leading destinations for trafficking more accountable, then the trafficking of victims from the Solomon Islands may also see a decline.


The U.S. Department of Labor 2020 report presented a legal framework that increases access to educational opportunities for youth in economically susceptible homes. This would chiefly be accomplished by introducing laws that would go beyond catching those who traffic. New laws would also hold officials accountable for not performing the duties necessary to address the problem. In addition, eliminating the source of economic strain that leads to child labor in the first place by making education accessible, high. quality and free is a start to ending human trafficking.

Bringing awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking as it exists in the Solomon Islands will allow its citizens to become more hands-on with tackling the problem in a more democratic way. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a key appendage of the United Nations which has a page dedicated to the Solomon Islands and offers worldwide outreach to end human trafficking.

Looking Ahead

Human Trafficking is an issue that pervades every society. However, strict international and governmental policies alongside economic aid to poorer nations are practices that could put a stop to the exploitation of vulnerable peoples. Though the task may seem too daunting and the response too decentralized, it is possible with the help of more legislative initiatives by the largest world powers and cooperation from the international community.

Albert Vargas
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in the Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands is a country in Oceania located to the east of Papua New Guinea. Trends show that human trafficking in the Solomon Islands occurs mostly in logging camps and fishing sectors, but some are implementing significant efforts to eliminate it.


Human trafficking in the Solomon Islands is most common in the logging camps and fishing boats, which are two primary sources of income for the country. Trafficking in these areas mostly revolves around the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Another concern of the U.S Department of State is child sex tourism.

According to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which ranks countries as belonging to one of four tiers in their efforts to combat trafficking, the Solomon Islands are a Tier 2 country. This rating means that while the government is making significant efforts to comply with the standards set in place by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), it is not fully meeting the standards.

In September 2010, the American Bar Association set out to prevent and reduce human trafficking in the Solomon Islands with the help of the Department of State. The program aims for these five goals:

  1. Raise people’s awareness of human trafficking and provide education on how to prevent it.
  2. Improve protection for both witnesses and victims.
  3. Increase access to better support services for human trafficking survivors.
  4. Develop laws or policies to deter human trafficking.
  5. Find lawyers to serve as human trafficking experts within the Solomon Islands.

Prevention Efforts

The pandemic did not hinder the efforts toward ending human trafficking in the Solomon Islands. In fact, the Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Committee (AHTAC), consisting of government agencies and citizens, met frequently despite the challenges that the pandemic presented.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare raised concern about human trafficking in a national address. Sogavare was concerned with trafficking in the fishing sector and announced that his government, along with international organizations, would be working on creating policies that aimed to erase sexual exploitation and modern slavery on fishing vessels operating in the Solomon Islands’ waters. According to an international organization, this address was the first time many Solomon Island citizens heard the term “human trafficking.” In the address, Sogavare also announced the completion of the National Security Strategy and National Border Strategy, which focused on migration, transnational crime, labor, trade, employment and investment, and their relationship to trafficking.

The Department of Immigration (DOI), together with the Solomon Islands Forestry Association, conducts campaigns to raise awareness about human trafficking near logging and mining sites. The campaigns focus on the consequences for those involved in human trafficking and the country’s trafficking laws.

Progress in Protection

Over the course of the pandemic, law enforcement individuals are still receiving training on victim identification and support. In 2018, authorities identified 39 potential trafficking victims and five in 2019 compared with four identified victims in 2020. One of the four victims was a foreigner living in the Solomon Islands and the other three were Solomon Islands citizens that were out of the country. Although internal sex trafficking is reportedly common, authorities did not identify any cases of sex trafficking.

In 2019, the Solomon Islands government gave $50,000 of its yearly budget to human trafficking victim care and shelter services. Despite problems and restraints caused by the pandemic, the government was still able to give $49,130 towards victim care, protection, investigation efforts and public education about human trafficking in the Solomon Islands in 2020.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police chose the capital, Honiara, as the site for a domestic violence shelter that provides aid to women and children that were sex trafficking victims. However, the government failed to provide support for adult male victims or victims of labor trafficking. Due to the location of the shelter, the protection services are difficult to access because most trafficking victims come from the provinces. The deficiencies in protection services for victims of human trafficking in the Solomon Islands likely led to fewer victims coming forward, and therefore, fewer prosecutions.

Looking Forward

In recent years, the Solomon Islands government has worked to bring an end to human trafficking within its borders. Although work still needs to occur, policies and programs are in place to bring the country closer to eliminating human trafficking.

Trystin Baker
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in the Solomon Islands
Best known for its exquisite marine life, the Solomon Islands is a nation of approximately 700,000 in Oceania. Furthermore, the World Health Organization’s depression rate estimates put the country as the least depressed nation in the entire world. To make this even more impressive, the Solomon Islands’ GDP per capita is lower than that of the 10 most depressed countries.

So, what is its secret? How does an impoverished nation grow to boast the world’s lowest rates of depression? Unfortunately, the answer is that these numbers grossly misrepresent the situation.

The Problem of Diagnosis

Mental health statistics rely on diagnoses, which are not widespread in impoverished nations. Mental health in the Solomon Islands seems low. However, this is because of inadequate healthcare which results in undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses.

Though one cannot simply say that all impoverished nations have higher rates of depression, their statistics may be untrustworthy or undocumented. Additionally, merit exists regarding the idea that citizens of some less wealthy nations are actually happier. This is often because of spirituality or a closer community. However, several factors suggest that this is not the case in the Solomon Islands.

Equality and Depression

The two most striking examples of this phenomenon revolve around equality. The first is gender inequality. This problem is easy to see through statistics of domestic abuse. According to the National Institute of Health, more than three in five women in the nation revealed that they suffered from “physical[ly] and/or sexual[ly]” abused. This rate is among the highest in the world.

The second suggestive element of the Solomon Islands’ reported depression rate is lower than in reality is sexuality intolerance. Gay marriage remains illegal for men, as does adoption. Non-straight people do not receive equal protection under the law, and conversion therapy is legal. These all take substantial tolls on the mental health of homosexual people. The community already reports higher than average rates of depression and suicide.

Looking Forward

The outstanding mental health in the Solomon Islands does in fact seem to be a grave case of misleading data. However, such an investigation does yield two significant and optimistic takeaways. First, the case of the Solomon Islands shows the importance of fighting for equality. Misleading statistics can entirely conceal the struggles of minority groups through the impression that the nation is not in need of development aid. Australia, a close partner to the west of the Solomon Islands, is doing great work to fight this inequality, which includes increasing mental health resources.

Second, an integral part of foreign aid needs to look out for psychological well-being. Poor nations do not have the proper training in diagnostics to communicate that mental health should be a priority, but that is part of healthcare, another key component of development. Thankfully, this idea underwent a recent proposal to the U.S. Congress through the MINDS Act. This act would force the world’s richest nations to consider the mental health of the nations to which they provide aid. Hopefully, with adequate support, these organizations and partnerships will address mental health in the Solomon Islands.

– Sam Konstan
Photo: Flickr

Nurses in the Solomon IslandsThe Solomon Islands has just two doctors for every 10,000 people. The doctor shortage makes nurses particularly essential, especially as the country faces frequent natural disasters and disease outbreaks. However, nurses are also in short supply. Furthermore, in a country with a 12% poverty rate as of 2013, nurses do not receive proper pay and care. Nurses in the Solomon Islands have faced even more difficulties than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new training programs are helping to remedy the shortage.

Nurse Strikes and Protests

Nurses are the primary healthcare providers in the Solomon Islands, but despite this, they consistently struggle with pay allowances rightfully due to them. The Solomon Islands Nurses Association has issued strikes multiple times over the past five years. In 2016, nurses went on strike for “multi-allowances and special duty allowances” that remained unpaid from 2013. The association extended the strike multiple times as nurses fought to receive the outstanding allowances. Eventually, the strike ended when the government agreed to review and listen to nurses’ demands.

In 2018, nurses found that many of the demands from a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2007 remained unmet. It called for public service to pay for transportation, housing and posting and for the government to review five other claims. Eleven years later, those demands remained unmet and nurses issued a 28-day strike notice.

In 2019, the nurses again faced a similar situation. The government had agreed on a payment plan the previous year that would provide the nurses with their incentives at the beginning of 2019. A month into the year, the payment did not come through as agreed upon. Once again, the Solomon Islands Nurses Association issued a 28-day strike notice.

Most recently, in October 2020, nurses working in Honiara, the country’s capital and a COVID-19 emergency zone, threatened to strike if they did not receive allowance pay for working on the front lines. The nurses initiated sit-in protests, but when those were overlooked, they went on strike without government approval.

Strike Repercussions

As a result of the unauthorized strike, the government suspended the Solomon Island Nurses Association as a trade union. The government recognized its inability to pay the nurses but did not believe the strike was in Solomon Islanders’ best interests. However, since the suspension, the government has taken action to address the nurse shortage by improving training programs for nurses.

Supervised Practice Program

In March 2021, 180 registered nurses graduated from the Solomon Islands National University and Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea and Atoifi. The graduates have begun a year-long internship with the newly implemented Supervised Practice Program. The Supervised Practice Program ensures nurses are fully registered before employment, focusing on areas of nursing that need improvement in the Solomon Islands.

The graduates are monitored and tested in attendance and timeliness, nursing ethics, code of conduct adherence and dedication. The Supervised Practice Program will help ensure that the Solomon Islands employs qualified and properly trained nurses. With this program, the government aims to improve healthcare and show support for nurses.

Long-Term Benefits of More Nurses

A lack of proper healthcare not only leads to poor health and a shorter lifespan but can also impact people’s ability to work and earn money, ultimately lowering household income and increasing poverty. People living in poverty are already at high risk of poor health because of limited access to healthcare services, a lack of nutritious food and unhealthy living environments. With increased access to qualified nurses, the people of the Solomon Islands will be able to improve their health and reduce poverty as productive citizens who can contribute to the economy.

The pandemic highlights the essential role of nurses, and as such, it is imperative to value, support and prioritize nurses. With progress for nurses in the Solomon Islands, quality healthcare will be more easily accessible to citizens, helping to reduce disease, death and poverty.

Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr

period poverty
Period poverty is an umbrella term that refers to the inaccessibility of feminine hygiene products, education, washing facilities and waste management, especially for menstruators with low incomes. Menstruators who lack the education or access to resources for safe period management often resort to risky methods such as using rags and clothing, which can lead to bacterial infections that can cause further physical health risks.

Today, there are over 800 million women and girls that have periods every day, yet they still face difficulties to properly manage their menstruation. According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people across the globe live without basic sanitation services in developing countries. Meanwhile, 73% of people lack access to proper handwashing facilities at home.

COVID-19 affects menstrual health and hygiene by exacerbating pre-existing inequalities regarding period poverty worldwide.

COVID-19 and Period Poverty

As stated by Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International U.K., “the virus is making the situation worse. We already know that the coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on family finances all over the world, but now we see that girls and women are also facing widespread shortages and price hikes on period products, with the result that many are being forced to make do with whatever they can find to manage their period.”

The disruption of global supply chains and ceased trading of smaller-scale private sector enterprises has led to product shortages. This shortage is the primary issue affecting women’s access to safe sanitary products. The price of sanitary products has also increased during the pandemic. It is extremely hard for families to afford these products since the pandemic has also affected household incomes.

“As most shops have run out, I sometimes have to substitute in different ways instead,” said a teenage girl from the Solomon Islands.

“Prices went up as soon as there was a confirmed case of COVID19 in Fiji. Sometimes I have to forgo buying hygiene products as money will have to be used on food and bills,” said a young woman in Fiji.

Stigmatization of Menstruation

Most of the world stigmatizes menstruation. Social stigmas and taboos about menstruation is another key factor that prevents women and girls from properly managing their periods. In Nepal, people perceive menstruating women as impure. Their community expels them to huts for the duration of their cycles. In Uganda, non-governmental agency WoMena showed that many girls skip school when they are on their periods. The primary reason: to avoid teasing from classmates.

Since the rise of COVID-19, some people have associated menstruation as a sign of illness. Although having periods is normal and healthy, there are myths stating that menstruation is a symptom of the coronavirus and that menstruators have a higher chance of infecting others. These myths are badly affecting period poverty by increasing the stigma of menstruation. The negative perceptions of menstruation, such that it is a symptom of an illness and that it should be something to hide from others, should change in order to stop period poverty.

A young woman from the Solomon Islands said “Sometimes [I feel shame]. Especially when I am not able to clean myself during water cuts. I feel embarrassed to walk around my family.”

Organizations Making a Difference

I Support The Girls is an organization that collects and distributes bras and menstruation products to people who need them around the globe. The organization mentioned that it has seen a 35% increase in requests for menstrual products, bras and underwear since the outbreak of the virus. In response, the organization collected and distributed over 2,000,000 products, partnered up with businesses to distribute surplus inventory, and more.

Plan International U.K. is another organization that fights period poverty; it distributes menstrual hygiene kits to support women and girls disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Alison Choi
Photo: Unsplash

Facts about Education in the Solomon Islands

With a population of just over 600,000 people, the Solomon Islands are comprised of six major islands and more than 900 smaller islands. The sovereign state’s unique geography and relatively low population make for a unique education system that continues to work toward solving issues such as extreme poverty, remote populations and a serious lack of budget allocation and funding. Below are eight facts about education in the Solomon Islands that dive deeper into what makes the education system so unique, what it is working to improve and how those improvements are being brought about.

8 Facts about Education in the Solomon Islands

  1. There are limited options for higher education.
    Education in the Solomon Islands consists of six years of primary education and seven years of secondary education. Afterward, students who wish to complete a higher education within the Solomon Islands must attend one of three colleges in the country. The colleges are the Solomon Islands Teachers College, the Honiara Technical Institute and a branch of the University of the South Pacific. Apart from these three institutions, limited opportunities for higher education are available.
  2. The country has low completion and attendance rates.
    Less than 50 percent of children residing in the Solomon Islands complete the full six years of primary education. There is no minimum amount of education mandated by law for children. Furthermore, many children are unable to attend to due to an environment of extreme poverty and dedication to a subsistence-based living. Attendance for secondary school is much lower than that of primary and presents a substantial gender skew. For example, 32 percent of the young male population is attending versus 27 percent of young females.
  3. All campuses are in the capital.
    The location of campuses for higher education in the Solomon Islands is problematic for much of the population. All campuses are in the capital city. Therefore, citizens from a poor background or distant location have limited access to achieve success in the higher education center. To counteract this, the Solomon government has established the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education in partnership with the University of the South Pacific. This college offers a diverse set of first-year university courses, complete training for teachers. The school offers education in finances, nursing and secretarial work. Additionally, it teaches technical education for careers uniquely relevant to the Solomon Islands such as fishing, forestry and agriculture.
  4. It has poor government funding.
    Another tidbit among these facts about education in the Solomon Islands is regarding government financial assistance. Public education in the Solomon Islands struggles to receive funding from the Solomon government. This funding can give educators and leaders more ability to reach out to a large population of potential students who are unable to attend otherwise. Government spending on education in the Solomon Islands has decreased to 17 percent.
  5. It has a low literacy rate.
    The average literacy rate for citizens 15 years and older is around 76 percent. This ranks the Solomon Islands 142nd in comparison with other countries in the context of the population’s literacy rate. This low percentage is likely due to a number of factors. Some examples include the lack of compulsory education, low enrollment rates and the prevalence of extreme poverty.
  6. There are improvements to its quality of education.
    The Solomon Island government is currently putting an effort forth in improving the quality of both primary and secondary education within the country. For example, one effort is emphasizing examinations within the education system. These exams focus on approving literacy among students. There are also programs to extend the reach of educational facilities toward communities isolated from urban centers.
  7. Education wasn’t always government-ran.
    Until the 1970s, mission schools provided all education in the Solomon Islands. Afterward, local government authorities took responsibility for education. In 1981, a government act created nine government with the responsibility of local education.
  8. There is an emphasis on vocational training.
    Vocational education is very important in the Solomon Islands. Many who practice subsistence farming and fishing will be able to begin practicing for-profit practices that will bring development to their region.

With a set of unique challenges, these eight facts about education in the Solomon Islands reflect the progress necessary to improve the population’s access to quality education.

– Jordan AbuAljazer
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in the Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands, one of the third largest archipelago countries, consists of nearly 900 islands with a total population of 400,000. It is located between the sea routes of the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea and the Coral Sea. Given its unique landscape and dispersed population, there is limited banking and credit access in the Solomon Islands. Currently, there are about 300 islands that are inhabited and within those islands, there are only 14 bank branches.

Current Status of Financial Inclusion

Limited banking and credit access in the Solomon Islands impact the way Solomon Islanders handle their finances. According to the Solomon Islands’ financial demand-side survey, the following statistics reveal the involvement in the Solomon Islands’ financial sector.

  • 8 percent own a bank account in different financial institutions such as a credit union or loan company
  • 26 percent of adults over the age of 15 own a bank account
  • 31 percent are not able to access any type of financial services
  • 35 percent of Solomon Islanders use services such as a moneylender or a savings club

It is important to note the barriers that Solomon Islanders face when they attempt to enter the financial sector. One of the many barriers includes the country’s mountainous and rainforest-covered landscape which constrains their ability to access financial services such as banks or ATMs.

It was reported that those without bank accounts live an average of 6 hours away from a bank while those with bank accounts must travel about 2 hours to access banking services. The farther away Solomon Islanders are from accessible financial services the more costly it is to participate in the financial sector.

Understanding the Gender Gap

It is important to address gender disparity when it comes to the financial involvement between men and women in the Solomon Islands. Only 20 percent of adult women have a commercial bank account compared to 32 percent of males. The Solomon Islands National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020 (NFIS) notes that “Banked adults now average 4.5 years more schooling than the unbanked: a factor that helps explain the widening gender divide.” The gap is also evident in terms of literacy rates as 89 percent of men in the country are able to read and write compared to only 79 percent of women.

Solutions for Financial Exclusion

The government is prioritizing efforts to provide accessible banking and credit access in the Solomon Islands and though it has been a tedious process there has been some progress. The updated NFIS strategy has a goal of helping men, women and young people “to be financially competent and have access to a full range of financial services that help them achieve greater financial security and financial opportunity.” Overall, the goal is to ensure that 300,000 adults to have a form of formal or semi-formal financial accounts by 2020. The NFIS also seeks to ensure that 90 percent of the population will be able to access financial services within one hour of ordinary travel from their homes.

The Solomon Islands Government also launched the Women’s Financial Inclusion in the Solomon Islands which focuses on empowering women to realize “their full potential, importance, and status, and be increasingly recognized and heard in Solomon Islands society.” The program also seeks to provide women with the necessary tools to become business owners and participate in the private sector. A number of initiatives have been spearheaded under the Women’s’ Financial Inclusion program:

  • Jorio Java Dovele Women’s Association Saving Club
  • Gizo Environment, Livelihood and Conservation Association
  • West Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association

Overall, promoting financial inclusion through greater credit access to the Solomon Islands has the potential to bridge the gender gap in the country while creating economic opportunity for those in rural areas.

– Jocelyn Aguilar

Photo: Unsplash

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is a small island nation in the Western Pacific located just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. As same as for many other distant countries, many Americans might wonder how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Solomon Islands? The reasoning lies primarily behind the economic and geopolitical environment of the Solomon Islands, both of which make this small country a good candidate for aid.

The relationship between U.S. and Solomon Islands

The relationship between the United States and the Solomon Islands began during World War II when the U.S. had a large-scale presence on the Islands. Today, the relationship is still very strong.

According to the U.S. State Department, the mutual goals of the United States and the Solomon Islands are:  improving regional stability, promoting democracy and human rights, combating trafficking in persons, responding to climate change, increasing trade, and promoting sustainable economic development”.

In the statement above the economic and geopolitical factors influencing U.S. investment in the Islands are emphasized. Geopolitically, The Solomon Islands lie in a strategic area. Per USAID, “A vast proportion of the world’s shipping passes through Pacific waters, making the Pacific Islands central to global security and the global economy”. For this reason, a close relationship with the Solomon Islands guarantees freedom of U.S. shipping interests and gives leverage to the United States in related conflicts, some of which occurred recently.

Furthermore, in a region that has significant geopolitical importance and was targeted by China, providing foreign aid to the Solomon Islands gives the U.S. an ally in a strategic location. This idea has been reinforced by the fact that Solomon Islands national security officials receive training and educational opportunities by the U.S. military. Clearly the U.S. Benefits from foreign aid to the Solomon Islands in this regard.

Economically, the Solomon Islands are an ideal candidate for aid since they are a relatively poor country. As a result, the impact of humanitarian aid in improving the lives of those on the island and in creating a strong relationship between the two countries is substantial.

Climate change effect on the Solomon Islands

Since this is an area highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, U.S. foreign aid to the Solomon Islands has helped this small country cope with climate change. In 2014, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance pledged 250,000 dollars to help the Solomon Islands recover from Cyclone Ita, a natural disaster that affected more than 50,000 people.

This illustrates another example of how the U.S. Benefits from foreign aid to the Solomon Islands. With climate change accelerating, vulnerable island communities such as the Solomon Islands are facing a growing existential crisis. As is the case with many of the Pacific Island nations, the Solomon Islands are poor and inadequately equipped to cope with such a crisis. In order to avert a humanitarian crisis with potentially destabilizing effects for the global community, the U.S. Foreign aid to the Solomon Islands helps ensure that the island community can be better prepared for the effects of climate change. As a result, aid to island countries is acting as an upfront cost to ensure that a bigger humanitarian crisis on the horizon never happens.

Although relatively small, U.S. foreign aid to the Solomon Islands helps protect American interests in the region and prevents a larger humanitarian crisis in the country itself that would require more resources in the future.

Taylor Pace
Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in the Solomon Islands

Sustainable agriculture in the Solomon Islands is not as big a concern as it is in regions where domestic agriculture is the main source of food and income. The Solomon Islands does have a small agricultural sector, but for the most part, the nation is very dependent on imported food. Some projects in the country have focused on creating more sustainable agricultural practices, but most focus on disaster preparedness.

Help from Multinational Organizations

Since the Solomon Islands is a Pacific Island country, it is very susceptible to natural disasters, particularly with the increased volatility of climate change. These disasters typically threaten food security and make it very difficult to consistently import food into the country. Organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have worked with the government of the Solomon Islands to improve disaster preparedness and response. Additionally, the FAO has worked with the Ministry of Health to improve standards of sanitization for imported foods and other food control systems.

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation also operates in the Solomon Islands. A major project conducted by the organization was the Sustainable Seaweed Farming project. Seaweed farming is a common practice on the islands, and with increased pollution, it is important that practices for sustainable agriculture in the Solomon Islands are in use. This project helped manage overharvesting and helped reduce damage to the coral reef ecosystems.

Government Policy Focused on Agriculture

The Solomon Islands does have its own ministries and departments that manage agricultural issues on the islands. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock creates and disseminates policy regarding plans for sustainable rural development, food security and improved livelihoods. These policies are very transparent and easily accessible.

Additionally, these policies are comprehensively broken down into four categories:

  • Farmers/Private Sector/Industry
  • Government and Policymakers
  • Women, Youth and NGOs
  • Development Partners

These categories show a good understanding by the government of who has a stake in the agriculture industry. It shows participation by the government in rural communities, in which almost 80 percent of the population lives. Most of these people additionally rely on agriculture for a portion of their income.

Ultimately, sustainable agriculture in the Solomon Islands is doing quite well, despite it not being a major focus for the island. Through the diligence of the government and projects run by independent organizations the Solomon Islands has implemented green farming and development practices and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.

– Liyanga de Silva
Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to the solomon islandsConsisting of hundreds of small islands and home to roughly 600,000 people, the Solomon Islands face an array of climate-related and social issues that have caught the world’s attention. Countries and organizations are currently sending humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands to transform the island chain into a safer place to live.

As islands in the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands are constantly threatened by some of the worst that weather and climate change have to offer: cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes and extensive flooding. In response to this, organizations like the Asian Development Bank have worked to create disaster-resilient infrastructure, including structures and roadways. Its Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Improvement Program aims to improve transport infrastructure and maintain roadways so that they will be fully accessible year-round.

A vital piece of creating consistently accessible roadways in the Solomon Islands is ensuring that all roads are climate-resilient, which is the goal by 2030, according to the Asian Development Bank. By improving transport conditions, the Asian Development Bank hopes to boost the local agriculture industry and reveal new economic opportunities for those living in rural areas.

Natural disasters in the Solomon Islands can have devastating effects. With its ranking of sixth on the World Risk Report’s disaster exposure rating, reducing these effects should be a top priority. Without the implementation of communication technologies to warn civilians of imminent threats, disasters can cause an exponentially higher level of destruction and death than what could have been avoided.

According to ABC International Development, the Solomon Islands Media Assistance Scheme (SOLMAS) was a project that worked to implement a stronger communications program. Funded by the Australian government, SOLMAS helped the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation upgrade its transmission infrastructure to expand the broadcasting audience. By increasing the audience and reaching out to rural areas, disaster awareness and preparedness have improved drastically.

Also reaching out to citizens in rural areas is the World Bank, which implemented the Rural Development Program (RDP). According to the World Bank, less than 20 percent of people in rural areas have access to electricity, falling to below 5 percent in the outer islands. Sanitation also presents an alarming statistic, with only 15 percent having access to flush toilets. Beginning in 2008, RDP supplies grants to in-need communities. More than 300 projects have been completed, positively impacting about 50 percent of the rural population, or 225,000 people. Projects providing humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands have spanned water access, electricity and education to road maintenance. As of 2013, the rural area’s access to clean water doubled and more than 50 percent of farmers changed their agricultural practices following advice from the project.

Despite the lack of adequate infrastructure, rural areas are not the only region to receive humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands. According to the United Nations Human Settlements Program, open public spaces are a rare commodity in urban areas with overcrowded cities. UNHabitat is currently working to improve conditions in the capital city of Honiara by developing a sustainable plan to maintain public spaces. The project, Participatory Slum Upgrading Program, cost about $100,000.

Humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands has been proven to improve living conditions in the islands and is essential to creating sustainable infrastructure. By upgrading sanitation, access to water and transport infrastructure, economic opportunities will continue to open.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Wikimedia Commons