Honiara, Solomon Islands, 14 April 2015 – With roughly 80% of Solomon Islanders living in rural communities scattered over 90 inhabited islands and isolated locations, access to services and basic infrastructure such as clean water is limited.
Since 2008, the Rural Development Program (RDP) has been implementing a community-driven development approach in more than 90% of the country’s rural wards. The program provides funds directly to communities to finance their highest priority development needs. More than 30% of communities identified water supply as their top priority.
Bringing the uncertain search for clean water to an end
In Nagholau, Isabel Province, the change brought about by RDP’s water project has been profound.
“Before the water supply, when we needed drinking water we had no choice but to paddle our canoe to find water, even in rough seas and bad weather,” said Glenda Vaha, local community member.
Searching for clean water was done by women or young girls and children, and could take several hours. Some canoes would sink in bad weather. To wash clothes and dishes, women had to carry buckets of clothes and dishes to the nearest river.
“Now that we have water supply in our village, life is much easier,” says Vaha. “We can get our drinking water right outside our homes and, for those of us with young babies, we can put them to sleep at home and do our washing outside.”
Lottie Vaisekavea, RDP’s Project Manager, says the community’s involvement right from day one has been vital to getting a good outcome.
“From our experience in RDP we have found that when communities have ownership, they get the infrastructure they need, the cost in building it is reduced, and the community looks after it long after the program leaves.”
In addition to water supply projects, RDP’s grants can be used to finance other rural infrastructure and services such as roads and footpaths, wharves and jetties, education and health facilities, electricity, sanitation and other priority needs.