Solomon Islands, Honiara. Seventh-day Adventist markets (credit: DFAT).
Australia is Solomon Islands’ major economic, development assistance and security partner—we provide about three-quarters of Solomon Islands’ aid. Since 2003, Australia has, through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and our bilateral programme, restored law and order, rebuilt national institutions and stabilised the economy. However, Solomon Islands still lags behind other Pacific countries on most development indicators. The formal economy is narrowly based, reliant on logging, mining revenue, fisheries and cash crops.
In 2014-15, Australia’s aid will target peace, stability and effective governance by:
- channelling Australia’s support for policing through RAMSI to ensure the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) can maintain law and order; strengthening justice agencies and the courts, including to increase the number of cases finalised in the magistrates’ courts; and increasing the number of court sittings in provincial locations
- providing funding of $8 million over four years to support the conduct of a free and fair general election in 2014 through advisory support to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission and support to the UNDP elections programme.
A banner is displayed during a peace rally in Honiara, Solomon Islands (credit: Australian Federal Police).
Australia’s aid will also target private sector development and improved infrastructure through:
- promoting macroeconomic stability through advisory support to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and improving the government’s ability to manage the economy
- working with business to develop a national growth agenda and more effective regulatory and tax regimes
- assisting the government improve transport infrastructure and the delivery and cost of utilities, including maintaining 500 kilometres of roads, building five new wharves/landing ramps in 2014-15 and funding the Solomon Islands Government to contract at least 75 local businesses for transport works.
Building a road between Auki and Malu'u, Solomon Islands (credit: DFAT).
Australia will also invest in better quality health and education to build a productive workforce by:
- supporting primary health care and water and sanitation. We are aiming to have 75 per cent of essential medical supplies in rural clinics (up from 65 per cent in 2013), and 100 per cent of urban water samples pass World Health Organization bacteria standards—up from 90 per cent in 2013. In 2001, this was less than 50 per cent. In 2014-15, Australia will also build 47 rural water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in nine provinces for 16,930 people and expand the National Medical Stores distribution network to three additional provincial centres.
- improving quality of education. Australia will continue to assist 145,000 children to stay in school and increase the number of trained primary teachers from 63 per cent to 70 per cent of the teaching workforce in 2014-15
- building skills to ensure young people are job-ready and supporting graduates in areas of labour shortage demanded by industry. Australia will provide up to 60 Australia Awards in 2014 and we aim for 126 Solomon Islanders to graduate from the Australia Pacific Technical College in 2014, compared to 115 in 2013.
Australia will promote women’s economic empowerment through:
- supporting safer markets in which women can sell their produce, working with the police to help address family violence, and targeting at least 30 per cent female employment in road maintenance work through the infrastructure programme.
Trish Dallu, APTC graduate hairdresser and owner of Trish and Ada’s Hair and Beauty (credit: DFAT).
Archived details of expenditure for this program for 2013–14 can be found here.
Archived details of expenditure for DFAT’s aid program, following the Government’s announcement on 18 January 2014 to revise the aid budget, can be found here.