28 May 2020
Solomon Islands: Foreign aid and development assistance.
On 7 July this year it will be 42 years since the Solomon Islands became an independent nation but its independence is still very much dependent on foreign aid and development assistance.
World development experts, over the past 20 or so years, called for greater political will for locally driven self-sustaining economic growth and development.
As much as there may be a desire to reduce the dependency on outside aid, I see the need for foreign aid to continue as the Solomon Islands economy shrinks because of climate change and the unexpected and dreadful impact of COVID-19 having spread across the world stage.
If donor aid was seriously reduced, health and education standards and needs would drastically reduce – with shortages of medical and technical staff, lack of medicines, specialist medical equipment and hospital facilities.
Where would the Solomon Islands have been without the help of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the European Union, China (PRC) and most recently Japan without the vital equipment to undergo testing for Covid-19, to adapt hospital facilities into Isolation Wards, Intensive Care (ICU) Units and provide Quarantine facilities?
One must hope that once the threat of COVID-19 is over the Solomon Islands with its wealth of natural resources will have developed its infrastructure to the extent that it will experience economic growth and to be able to reduce its dependency on outside aid.
As much as I hope to be able to witnesses less dependency on aid, I remind myself that climate change poses a serious threat to achieving true independence.
The devastation brought about by the recent tropical category 5 cyclone, Cyclone Harold, which brought havoc across the region in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands demonstrated how much aid and humanitarian assistance was needed, and is still needed, to re-build homes and lives, especially in Vanuatu.
In the 42 years of the Solomon Islands independence, a new report issued bythe Solomon Islands Social Accountability Coalition (SISAC tells how a media team from SISAC successfully completed a weeklong tour in the Western Province to capture issues faced by rural communities on healthcare access and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stories were gathered across communities in Simbo, Ranonga and North Vella to amplify and bring people’s concerns and demand for quality essential services.
Issues captured include some harsh conditions with nurses forced to work with, the extreme lengths rural residents face to access health facilities and services, and the rural impression of the government’s COVID-19 response.
The media team found some of the conditions of the health service in the rural areas just unimaginable.
The SISAC reports begs the question why is it that the health service in the rural areas of the Western Province is described as “unimaginable” despite 42 years of donor aid?
27 May 2020
Solomon Islands: The SIDT helping with food security in reviving its ‘Supsup garden’ ideas.
Little had been heard of the work of the Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) in the past couple of years, but it was encouraging to learn today that the well respected community organization is reviving its ‘Supsup garden’ initiative in the hope of providing for extra food security.
The SIDT will be handing out basic garden tools to enable village people to grow their own food needs.
Initially, just five sets of garden tools have been acquired from a local hardware store and they will be given to given to communities in three provinces.
SITD staff will work with village communities to demonstrate how to grow vegetables for home consumption.
In separate news I mentioned previously in the context of growing food crops in difficult circumstances caused by salt water incursion due to sea rise, the use of hessian sacks can help to overcome the problem of the salt water, especially if the growing sacks can be lifted off the ground and placed on a base of rocks or other solid materials, including felled logs cut to size.
Old motor tyres could also be stacked on top of each other and used to form a growing container when filled with a soil mix.
In areas where the garden beds need minimal protection from salt water, it could be useful to raise the beds off the ground or surround them with frames made from stones, coral or timber.
I thank the SIDT for the provision of the garden tools and for the initiative in once more returning to help communities with food production.
Vanuatu allows first regional flight to land in Port Vila
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 27 May 2020
“Vanuatu is to allow the first regional flight from Solomon Islands to Port Vila this week.
“The Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, said the incoming passengers won't be expected to undergo 14 days of quarantine since the Solomon Islands, like Vanuatu, has no Covid-19 cases.
“The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the number of passengers arriving has not been specified
“It is believed to be the first of a series of incoming repatriation flights from nearby countries for Vanuatu citizens stranded due to the global coronavirus restrictions.”
Copyright @ 2020, Radio New Zealand.
27 May 2020
Japan giving USD$25.8 million to the Solomon Islands in COVID-19 emergency assistance.
The outgoing Japanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, Shigeru Toyama, revealed during his final courtesy call to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, yesterday, that his government was givingUSD$25.8 million in COVID-19 emergency assistance to the Solomon Islands.
Ambassador H.E. Toyama told the Prime Minister, “My government has not yet pledged any emergency assistance against coronavirus, but responding to your efforts against the pandemic, we are now progressing assistances with responsible ministries.”
It is believed, of the USD$25.8 million, a grant of USD$2.8 million will be go towards the equipment needs of the health sector in prevention and response operations against the threat of COVID-19
The remaining USD$23 million will provide for Emergency Financial Assistance through a Concessional Program Loan.
Ambassador Toyama told Prime Minister Sogavare that he was highly appreciative of the preventive measures taken by the Government.
The Ambassador also thanked the Solomon Islands government for its support to Japan’s activities of collecting the remains of fallen Japanese soldiers and seeing they were returned to their final resting place in Japan.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity of thanking Ambassador Toyama for all he had done to support the Solomon Islands. He said, “In terms of infrastructure development, the Solomon Islands would not go far without Japan’s assistance.”
“My Government looks forward to receiving your successor,” the Prime Minister reportedly told Ambassador Toyama.
“Be assured, Solomon Islands will continue to support Japan in issues of common interest in international forums.” he reportedly added.
Source: Solomon Star News.
26 May 2020
Solomon Islands: The importance and necessity of accurate information sharing.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ms Pauline McNeil, has said her ministry has identified “gaps” that will need strengthening should there be the necessity of future lockdowns as part of COVID -19 preventative measures.
Ms McNiel mentioned reviewing operational procedures, as well as refreshing training and guidelines.
She stressed the need for timely and effective information sharing.
I entirely agree with what the Permanent Secretary feels necessary to improve in terms of information sharing.
COVID-19 is a deadly, unseen disease that has spread rapidly through the world causing deaths and untold economic losses and naturally people are very concerned should the virus reach the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands government has put in a raft of emergency measures to keep COVID 19 away and so far with success. It is seen as vitally important that the people are away of the safety and health precaution measures that are in place and need to be fully complied with by all.
The issuing of some 10,000 health advisory and safety notices was seen as essential and the right move.
Without wanting to sound alarmist the better and more accurate information the public have, from proper sources such as the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the better informed the communities will be protected from COVID-19.
The ‘new normal’ which as seen restrictions of movement and the necessity of social distancing, as well as curfews and lockdown measures, all need to be properly explained to find acceptance and cooperation in keeping COVID-19 away.
Keep up the good work MHMS.