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Results Briefs November 6, 2020

Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement Project (CAUSE)

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Public space improvement and footpath connecting communities of roughly 400 residents to Barana primary school and a water well.


Solomon Islands is a fragile, post-conflict country that is highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Poverty remains extensive and providing access to services is extraordinarily challenging given the small, dispersed nature of the population. The Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement (CAUSE) project aims to improve basic infrastructure and services for vulnerable, urban population in the country, with skills training, short-term job opportunities and income generation being prioritized to help develop self-sustaining communities. Infrastructure and maintenance projects such as roads and bridges as part of CAUSE provide jobs and access to basic services, while improved connectivity has increased economic productivity and improved access for residents to employment, health facilities, schools and markets.

Challenge

Solomon Islands are made up of over 1,000 islands spread over a million square kilometers of ocean. Its remote and rugged geography and vulnerability to natural hazards present extreme challenges, making it tough to provide reliable basic services to its people. The stark effects of weather and climate change further exacerbate these challenges.

From 1998 to 2003, the country underwent a period of conflict known as “Tensions,” with additional incidents in 2006 and more recently in April 2019, following national elections. Despite these challenges, its real GDP grew by an average of five to seven percent until 2016, despite a small contraction during the global financial crisis in 2009. Overall, the poverty rate has declined by eight percentage points between 2006 and 2013. Health and education indicators have also improved.

However, this growth masks some key issues. As the population continues to expand, individual wealth remains below the pre-conflict peak. Industries like logging, which has been a main driver of growth, are expected to decline sharply during the 2020’s.

In 2013 12.7 percent of Solomon Islanders still lived below the national poverty line, and the country remains among the least developed countries in the world.

Approach

CAUSE aims to improve basic infrastructure and services for vulnerable urban populations in Solomon Islands. It also strengthens social cohesion, by mobilizing community groups and foster greater transparency and engagement between them and local government authorities in delivering public services.

This is achieved through interventions across three areas: urban works and services, road maintenance and repair and skills training, and targeting vulnerable groups, including women and youth.

Poorly managed and unplanned growing urban areas have given rise to unemployment inequality, environmental risks and land disputes. The ability to deliver in each of the country’s key growth centers must be improved to develop community well-being. $6.7 million will be spent on community-based urban works and services that focus on the provision of pedestrian and emergency access for at-risk communities who are economically disadvantaged and vulnerable to climate change. This will include the delivery of other public infrastructure and waste management services.

Road maintenance and repair of critical access links for communities is vital to maintaining connectivity. $5.4 million will be spent on road maintenance, improvement and the rehabilitation of key sections of roads to climate resilient standards.

$1.4 million will be spent on infrastructure and service delivery training. Skills training, short-term job opportunities and income generation for vulnerable groups are essential to developing self-sustaining communities.

To “put people first” in development processes is a top priority for the project. It promotes social inclusion of the poor and vulnerable by empowering people, building cohesive and resilient societies, and making institutions accessible and accountable to citizens.

Results

Despite the constraints imposed by the State of Public Emergency resulting from COVID-19 the project has benefited about11,000 households across three provinces as of June 2020.

Beneficiaries most frequently cited income generation as a top priority for themselves. Almost all also reported the need for infrastructure improvements in their communities. Infrastructure work ensures greater access, while securing work for previously struggling communities. By the end of June 2020:

  • 2,160 infrastructure and service delivery workers have been trained, 51percent  of which are women.
  • 111,600 labor days in total have been created (of which  50 percent are women and 44 percent are youth) with each participant working an average of 30 days.

Training is aligned with the provincial governments and town councils’ infrastructure priorities, so that new workers are available. Connective infrastructure is essential for economic productivity and reinstates access for residents to town, employment and markets.

  • The estimated life of the bridges, roads and waste disposal systems constructed through project funding are 25-30 years and they require little maintenance, meaning future generations have secure access to basic services.
  • As of June 2020, 22,000 cubic meters of waste has been collected, exceeding the target of 19,400 cubic meters.

The project’s results demonstrate that a grass-roots level community-based workfare approach combined with training and work experience can generate immediate and visible results for the most vulnerable. It improves economic opportunities and benefits entire communities through a more development-oriented approach aimed at improving service delivery in urban areas.

Bank Group Contribution

The CAUSE project is financed through an International Development Association grant of $15 million.

Partners

The project is implemented by the Honiara City Council and Ministry of Infrastructure Development in partnership with Provincial Government Authorities in Guadalcanal, Western and Malaita of the Solomon Islands

The project has been successful in leveraging parallel financing with tuna processor SolTuna, which provided construction materials in the towns of Noro and Munda. Additional financing has been provided by the  New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (USD26,500) and UN WOMEN is allocating SBD 400,000 (USD 49,200) for construction materials for two market stalls, toilet facilities and water tanks for the Munda Market.

In all cases the CAUSE Project provided technical expertise in planning, design, and supervision, along with the cost of labor, equipment and logistics. Furthermore, workers in all cases had received training from the CAUSE Project’s Infrastructure and Service Delivery Training.

Additional literacy training is being delivered by the Literacy Association of Solomon Islands (LASI) and electronic banking services by the Bank of South Pacific.


111,600

Labor days have been created (of which 50 percent are women and 44 percent are youth) with each participant working an average of 30 days.


Moving Forward

A key feature of the CAUSE project is its ability to adapt and build partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic implications.

In this regard CAUSE has been helping in three ways:

First, by scaling up training and cash transfer activities for vulnerable groups that have been economically affected by COVID-19, strengthening their resilience and mitigating potential fragility and social unrest, which has been widespread in recent history. The project has also developed a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan that is updated and refined regularly.

Second, by supporting the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to increase emergency prevention. Preparedness and awareness efforts include sanitizing of public spaces, construction of public hand washing stations, quarantine centers in Nusatupe and Noro in Western Province  and training workers and communities on key symptoms and prevention measures.

Finally, by partnering with other organizations and government entities to support additional strategic investments that were not part of the original project scope but contribute to sustainable local economic development. For example, the construction of bus shelters on Noro Island co-financed by SolTuna, the largest employer in Solomon Islands, is expected to benefit some 2,000 workers as well as island residents. It is expected that these types of investments will help support and sustain the economic growth and recovery of Solomon Islands in the long-term.

Beneficiaries

Justina is a single mother of six children. She has grown and sold produce from her garden at the local market to help support her family – but a recent invasion of African snails destroyed her crops, which are her only source of livelihood.

But thanks to a CAUSE-funded training program, Justina got the right skills training and secured a job in the housekeeping department of the Coral Sea Resort.

“I had never worked at a hotel or any office organization in town and so was quite frightened about the thought of applying for a job outside my usual workplace – my home and garden,” she said.

Muriel is a mother in the Ngalisagore community where for years, accessibility to essential services was non-existent, with heavy rains and flooding wiping away an essential throughway to the community. The community used a log for crossing until a footbridge was built using CAUSE funding.

Muriel said it is a miracle for women, children and the elderly, that life can now be lived more fully because of the bridge that allows access to the main road and services in Auki.


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Jacob's Ladder (256m). The ladder serves 340 residents in the District-Jha Mountain, providing them the shortest route to the main road. The other routes provide access up to the Tsumani Evacuation Center in Titiana, which provides safe refuge for 152 coastal households formerly devastated by a Tsunami in 2007 which killed 52.