Solomon Islands village

Solomon Islands

Geographical Context

Solomon Islands is an archipelago nation made up of mountainous islands and coral atolls covering approximately 28,000 square kilometres. The country is organised into nine provinces and one capital territory; Central, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Rennell, Temotu, Western and Honiara.

Social Services

The population is dispersed over multiple islands, making travel times sometimes long and expensive and services often quite infrequent. These factors make delivery of social services to communities and community access to markets, very limited.

Agriculture and Economics

More than 80 per cent of Solomon Islanders rely on rural livelihoods of small-scale subsistence cash based agriculture and small scale forestry and fishing (AusAID, 2006). The agricultural sector absorbs 75% of the labour force. Despite recent strong economic growth, the Solomon Islands economy continues to face a number of challenges at the community level. The majority of working age people in the Solomon Islands are engaged in the non-monetary economy (ADB, 2007). Major agricultural produce includes cocoa beans, coconuts, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, cattle, pigs and fish. The agricultural sector accounts for 42% of GDP, with industry and services accounting for 11% and 42% respectively. Agricultural practices that rural populations rely on have been placed under increasing pressure from climate change risks.

Resources management

While the Solomon Islands have areas with abundant natural resources, natural systems are under great pressure from commercial logging, mining and fishing. Commercial logging is one of the Solomon Islands’ most important sources of economic growth, however, this source of growth is unsustainable. The country is therefore broadening the base of growth of the economy, with mining, agriculture exports, fisheries, and tourism all being targeted.

For decades sustainable forest management has been absent from community life and this has impacted on the environment, particularly eco-based systems and food security. Communities lack the skills, planning ability and knowledge to assess natural resource development (resource extractive activities) against other options. Hence, communities need support to more appropriately manage resources on which their livelihoods depend.

Natural Disasters

Many islands in the Solomon Islands are vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes. High population growth rates of around 2.8 per cent continue to place pressure on infrastructure and increase the demand for food, water, sanitation, housing, education and health services.