Australia is funding ten new community-led projects across Solomon Islands through the Direct Aid Program, improving water supplies, schools and community facilities.
Waloabu community in Baegu/Asifola constituency in the northern region of Malaita Province has been without a proper water supply for more than thirty years and accessing clean water by paddling three kilometres to the nearest stream has been a daunting sometimes dangerous task for young women in the area.
“Paddling long distances to fetch water has proven to be dangerous for our young girls from past experiences while not being able to complete basic education due to household commitments,” Rose Liata, a woman leader in the Waloabu community, said.
The livelihood of community members will soon change for the better thanks to funding support from the Australian Government.
Rose was among nine other Project Coordinators who attended a signing ceremony on Friday 4 November 2022 for successful applicants under round one of Australia’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) for the 2022-2023 financial year.
The Australian Government, through DAP, is funding ten new community-led projects in the first half of this financial year (2022-2023).
The ten funded projects are from across Solomon Islands, including Malaita, Isabel, Western, Choiseul, Guadalcanal and Rennell and Bellona Provinces.
This includes water supply projects (Malaita, Isabel, and Choiseul Provinces), solar power projects (Western and Choiseul Provinces), school projects (Choiseul, Malaita, and Guadalcanal Provinces), construction of a community health centre on Bellona Island, Rennell and Bellona Province, construction of a resource information centre in East Are’Are, Malaita Province and a sanitation project in Choiseul Bay, Northwest Choiseul Province.
Acting Deputy High Commissioner Kevin Playford while congratulating the successful applicants also highlighted that the Direct Aid Program is part of the relationship and friendship between Australia and Solomon Islands.
“Australia and Solomon Islands are part of the Pacific family, and the Direct Aid Program is a special way in which the Australian High Commission reaches out to work directly with communities across Solomon Islands.
“Your projects have been selected based on their merit. They meet our DAP requirements, and most projects are in line with Australia’s COVID-19 Response Plan for Solomon Islands, which seeks to help build COVID-19 resilience, including through support to projects in the water and sanitation sectors,” Mr Playford told the project recipients during the signing ceremony.
Mr Playford urged project coordinators to undertake and complete the projects in a comprehensive and timely manner.
“One of the principles of which we choose DAP projects is because they benefit as many people in the community as possible,” he said.
Mr Playford wishes the project coordinators all the best with the implementation of their projects.
Rose Liata, project coordinator for the Waloabu Community Water Supply Project in Malaita Province, believes that the issues and challenges experienced by their young women will soon be solved because of their funded project.
“Not only that, but standard of living inside our community will change in terms of development when we can access water at our doorsteps,” said Ms Laita .
With this DAP funding, the Waloabu community is planning to construct a concrete tank with pipeline system that will supply water to 15 standpipes. This water supply will serve a total of 52 households including the neighbouring Garota Community high school.
Amalyn Finau is another grateful funding recipient of a Solar Power Project which will be a game changer for her community in Marovo in Western Province.
Ms Finau is a nurse at Cheara Clinic which has no basic electricity supply to power vaccine refrigeration, clinical appliances, and administrative tasks.
“Even when birthing for pregnant mothers during the night, we must use flashlights which makes our work very difficult. That is why we are very happy the Australian Government is coming to our rescue with this funding,” said Ms Finau.
The proposed solar system will greatly assist the clinic by supplying electricity that is continuous, reliable, and environmentally friendly.
In the Matamoana Community Bellona Island, Rennell and Bellona Province, a satellite community health centre will be constructed to complement the existing rural health centre on Bellona Island.
Project coordinator, Duncan Rubin said the idea to pursue this project come about after they experienced the influx of people returning to the island during the outbreak of COVID-19.
“The need for medical services was paramount as the existing services are not able to cater for the needs of the growing population on the island. We acknowledge the Australian Government for recognising our need to fund this project,” said Mr Rubin.
“Once completed it will help people in our communities and I assure the Australian Government of our commitment to make this project a success,” said Mr Rubin.
DAP is a small, flexible grants scheme, which the Australian High Commission directly administers. The Program funds community-led projects to help improve Solomon Islanders’ standard of living as the Australian High Commission strives to support projects across Solomon Islands.