HONIARA, Solomon Islands
City and health authorities in the Solomon Islands, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, are calling for effective and consistent urban waste management as they battle to control a serious outbreak of dengue fever, the world’s fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease, which was identified in the country in February.
Life is difficult enough for communities on the remote southern Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Sustaining a livelihood from the land is a daily struggle on the steep coastal mountain slopes that plunge to the sea, made worse by the absence of adequate roads, transport and government services. And now, climate change is taking its toll on the already precarious food situation here.
The deceptively calm waters of Langa Langa Lagoon on the west coast of Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands is home to thousands of people who have lived on artificial islands for centuries. For generations the islanders in this south-west Pacific nation have employed tenacity and ingenuity to maintain their existence on these tiny low-lying man-made atolls, devoid of freshwater and arable land. But climate change is now the greatest threat to their survival.
After ten years of working towards peace and reconciliation in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, following a five-year civil conflict known as the ‘Tensions’ (1998-2003) which left 30,000 people displaced and hundreds unaccounted for, people now go about their daily lives in improved freedom and personal security. But below the surface, untreated post-conflict trauma continues to impact many individuals and communities.
Down the main road in Munda, a coastal town on the North Georgia Island of the Solomon Islands, past the wharf, the market and a small collection of shops, Patrick Arathe’s farm is reached by walking first across the runway of the local airport and finally along a dirt track that winds between residential buildings until it opens into a large clearing.
With little more than a bush knife and an axe between them, a group of young boys between the ages of nine and 18 years have taken food security into their own hands. In Kindu, a community of 5,000 people in the coastal urban area of Munda in the Solomon Islands, these boys, who have been abandoned by their parents, have transformed their lives by establishing a cooperatively run farm.
The Solomon Islands, a developing island nation in the south-west Pacific Islands, has one of the highest urbanisation rates in the region, and the basic service infrastructure is struggling to cater for the influx of people from the provinces to the capital, Honiara. Thirty-five percent of the city’s population, who live in informal settlements, are facing the health consequences of a dire shortage of clean water and sanitation.
In Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, women are taking the lead in developing a burgeoning floriculture industry. At the same time, their enterprise is contributing to community resilience as rapid urbanisation exceeds employment opportunities and challenges the economic wellbeing of many urban families.
Women face greater odds in achieving equal political representation in the Pacific Islands than in any other region of the world, holding just 3 percent of seats in national parliaments, compared to 20 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 18.5 percent in South East Asia.
The Pacific Islands have some of the lowest rates of Internet penetration in the world, yet tech-savvy urbanites are behind the emergence of a number of social media sites dedicated to generating public debate and demanding government accountability. However, without real action, online forums speaking truth to power are constrained in impacting political and social reforms in the region.
Papua New Guinean opposition leader Belden Namah has launched legal proceedings against an Australian detention centre for asylum seekers in Manus province of this South Pacific island nation.
Coral reefs and marine ecosystems in the Milne Bay Province of the Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea are at serious risk of long-term environmental damage. The reason: an oil spill from a ship that ran aground on a reef on Kwaiawata Island on Christmas Eve, and authorities’ long delay in mobilising an appropriate response to the accident.
Papua New Guinea, the most populous nation in the Pacific Islands, is ranked 153 out of 187 countries worldwide for gender equality, which is evident in education, employment, health and political representation.
The world’s first deep sea mineral (DSM) mining venture in the Bismarck Sea off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific has come to a halt after two years of development.
With youth populations growing faster than jobs in the Pacific Islands, young women, who are also confronting social pressures to conform to traditional gender roles, account for the highest rates of unemployment in most countries.