SYDNEY, April 1st, 2014 --- Today at a ceremony in Sydney, the Hon. Rick Houenipwela, Minister of Finance and Treasury for Solomon Islands and Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands signed the agreements that will officially launch two new projects for Solomon Islands, one to improve electricity supply and reliability in Honiara, and the second to help protect communities against growing risks from climate change and natural disasters.
“This launch will kickstart two very important projects for our country – projects that will help improve electricity supply, a priority for the Government and people of Solomon Islands, and that will enable communities to be better prepared for climate change and natural hazards,” said Minister Hou.
“I am pleased to be launching these projects on behalf of the World Bank as it continues to expand its support for Solomon Islands, by way of projects that support national priorities, such as reducing risks from climate change and natural disasters, and improving power supply for households and businesses,” said Drees-Gross.
The Community Resilience to Climate Change and Disaster Risk in Solomon Islands Project (CRISP) will invest US $9.1 million in climate and disaster risk information and early warning systems, which can save lives in the event of a tsunami or other natural hazard, as well as community projects in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, such as climate proofed buildings, in up to 4 provinces.
The agreement was also signed for US$13 million in new financing for the Sustainable Energy Project (SISEP), which is working to improve the reliability and efficiency of electricity supply for the 65,000 residents of Honiara.
“Efficient, affordable and reliable electricity access is essential for every aspect of development from running hospitals to doing business, while the Climate and Disaster Resilience Project is vitally important in a country where communities face very real, very present threats from natural disasters and climate change, especially in the remote Outer Islands,” said Drees-Gross.
The SISEP project began in 2008 and has supported the financial turn-around of the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA), and improvements in power reliability in Honiara. During the course of SISEP, the annual total length of time that a customer is without power in Honiara has fallen by more than 80 percent, from 864 hours in 2007 to 124 hours in 2012.
This new funding will build on SISEP’s achievements and enable investments to further strengthen power systems, in particular through improvements to the grid in Honiara.
SISEP is being funded through US$13 million in grants and low-interest credits from the International Development Association (IDA). CRISP is funded through a US$7.3 grant from the Global Environment Facility for Least Developing Countries, with a further US$1.8 million from the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Grant through the European Union Asian, Caribbean and Pacific Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program.