24 May 2020
The Commonwealth Financial Access Hub could possibly assist the Solomon Islands in obtaining grants from the Green Climate Fund.
Last April, Tonga, as I wrote earlier, managed to get a grant of over SUS1.6 million from the Green Climate Fund to help the country adapt to climate change.
Late last year, in November 2019, I also wrote saying how Tonga had received another grant of $US500 k from the Green Climate Fund to improve solar electricity generation.
As is the Solomon Islands much like Tonga, sea levels are rising, storms increasing in both intensity and frequency, and land is turning into desert or flooded destroying food gardens and giving rise to food shortages.
Global warming is helping to crippling the economy and hampering progress toward the sustainable development goals in the Solomon Islands and the same is said to be happening in many other Commonwealth member countries.
As the second most at-risk country in the world from climate change, Tonga is already experiencing a range of climate change impacts from extreme rainfall events, flood, drought, severe temperature changes, sea level rise, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and more intense cyclones. Making sure that the country is able to effectively adapt to the effects of climate change is critical for Tonga’s sustainable development.
Although the international community has pledged billions to address climate change, countries find it extremely difficult to draw from financing mechanisms - such as the Green Climate Fund - for projects to help people adapt to climate change and mitigate its effect.
How then did Tonga manage to cut through the ‘red tape’ and acquire the two substantial grants from the Green Climate Fund?
The answer is with help from the Commonwealth Financial Access Hub and with a resident National Adviser.
Let me explain.
“The Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub helps countries untangle the red tape around climate financing, and make successful applications to the international funds that address climate change. National advisors are deployed to long-term positions in government environmental departments and agencies, and in regional bodies like the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belize. These experts are creating a pan-Commonwealth network that is managed by a hub in the Republic of Mauritius.
“The Hub builds on the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to address climate change that began in 1989 with the adoption of the Langkawi declaration on the environment. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta 2015, leaders agreed to take action to limit global warming to 2 degrees. This joint decision was instrumental in securing the historic Paris accord on climate change.
“The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub ensures that Commonwealth small and other vulnerable states have improved access to climate finance by placing experts in government departments to support grant applications, capacity building and implementation.”
I believe it would be advantageous for the Solomon Islands to have more information as to how the Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub might assist the SIG in obtaining a grant from the Green Climate Fund to adapt to climate change.
Contact details are:
Senior Communications Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7747 6215
Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub
11th Floor Sterling House
9-11 Lislet Geoffroy Street
Republic of Mauritius
Tel: (+230) 210 6208/6325/6551
Fax: (+230) 210 6548
23 May 2020
Solomon Islands: A police officers comments begs the question whether there is a Mental Health Policy in place today
In an article in the Solomon Stat newspaper yesterday an unidentified police officer was quoted as saying, “It is very sad when the whole city is in lockdown, we realized we have a lot of mentally ill people living with us.”
The police officer’s comments came in respect of what he saw during his tour of duty during the 36 hour lockdown which commenced on Wednesday night.
The Solomon Star newspaper accompanied the article with a photo of a relatively young man, described as a “mental man,” walking through a Honiara street during the lockdown on Thursday.
It strikes me as very sad indeed that a lockdown has served to highlight the number of people with special needs in Honiara.
With the greatest respect I ask what is the extent of the situation in the Solomon Islands today, and not just in Honiara, with regard to the numbers suffering mental health concerns, and what care and possible treatment is available to them.
I believe a National Mental Health Policy was drafted in 2009 but I am not sure whether it was ever endorsed by the Cabinet.
I know, too, a number of the population still turns to traditional healers or church leaders for purposes of healing, seeking help from Western medicine only after all other alternatives in the community have been exhausted.
Is there still a long way to go before mental health services are available, affordable and accessible to the whole population, including people living in geographically remote areas?
From 2012 to 2014, the Solomon Islands Integrated Mental Health service worked with Asia-Australia Mental Health to build workforce capacity and deliver sustainable community mental health programs and emphasised the importance of greater community ownership and involvement in community-based mental health care, and of moving from centralised services to increased local and accessible care.
22 May 2020
An investment in online education in the Solomon Islands by development partners could help shape the future of the strategically placed nation.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic schools around the world closed their doors, including in the Solomon Islands, leaving billions of children across nations sitting at home.
Outside the Solomon Islands, especially in India, the demand for online learning has been exceptional and the trend is still growing.
Some educational institutions have started online courses, and some education technology startups are temporarily offering free classes to help overcome the impact of school closures.
In the Pacific the University of the South Pacific (USP) is a leader in online courses.
Australian education is world-leading and available online. The courses are backed by the Australian government and by many Australian Universities.
While broadband internet services may not yet be fully operative and accessible in the Solomon Islands, I venture to suggest it would be worthwhile Australia, New Zealand and perhaps Japan, as leading donor partners, looking into ways as to how online education could be provided in schools.
Naturally, there would need to be investment in equipment and communications links and online courses suitable for Solomon Islands students at the various levels.
Following the end of COVID-19 many aspects of life, work, and education are expected to change with technology leading the way.
The education of Solomon Islands children is important for their future, the country’s future and should be seen by outside players in providing for the longer term stability and prosperity of the Solomon Islands a country with an important strategic position in the Pacific.
22 May 2020
Overcoming food shortages by growing crops in large hessian bags
It has been widely reported that people in Malaita’s Outer Islands are experiencing food shortages due to climate change and sea level rises affected their food gardens
It is understood climate change is a real issue in the islands due to land erosion, high tides and extreme weather conditions, causing garden crops to fail due to salt water intrusion.
I would like to offer a possible solution based on successful urban farming practices in Kenya where there is not even enough land to plant a food garden.
People in Nairobi the Kenyan capital successfully grow all the food crops they need, and produce over to sell and earn a living, and they do this by filling large sacks with soil, punching holes in the sides of the sacks and planting their seedlings through the holes.
The sacks stand upright and watered through the open top which allows the water to trickle through the hessian sack and keep the plants from drying out.
44 gallon used oil drums are also used to plant and grow successful crops.
I have illustrated some examples which I hope the community struggling with growing crops in the Outer Islands can copy and overcome their food security concerns.
22 May 2020
Alleged concerns about patient care at the NRH need to be investigated
The National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara is the sole referral hospital facility in the country which as an existing population exceeding 684,000 and the majority living in the rural areas where health facilities are limited.
In normal times the NRH is over-burdened in dealing with patients suffering from Non Communicable Diseases but with the current situation in the country brought about by the need for preventative measures and responses to combat the intrusion of COVID-19, it has been claimed that ‘normal’ health services at the NRH are affected and, allegedly, chronically ill patients not being given the attention they need.
If the allegations are factual then one would hope the situation will be looked into and all patients given the best attention and treatment they deserve
Speaking in Port Moresby this week, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Hon. James Marope talked about decentralisation and said the PNG Government will begin to build modern hospitals in the 22 provinces in the country and one major upgrade of the referral hospital in the national capital, Port Moresby.
PM Marape said the work would begin next year and go into 2025 when PNG would celebrate 50 years of Independence.
The PM added that funds were being sent to the provinces and would continue with the aim of building capacity and systems in the provinces.
The Solomon Islands government has plans for decentralisation of government services, including the recently announced initiatives for the upgrade of rural health centres and two provincial hospital but more details of the proposed planning and implementation process are keenly awaited. Likewise the proposal to re-locate the NRH appears to be pending.
News sources: Solomon Star News and Radio New Zealand.