Looking at the possible unintended consequences of a fleeing population escaping the threat posed by Covid-19
It is believed many thousands of Solomon Islanders have fled Honiara and returned to their home provinces to escape the possibility of developing coronavirus which has spread rapidly across the globe causing severe respiratory illness inmillions and increasing numbers of deaths, especially in Europe and in the United States of America.
The influx of the large numbers of people returning home will have large scale social consequences swelling the problems of those in village communities associated with rural poverty and who were already struggling to make ends meet by scratching a living from their food gardens and having little, or anything, like livestock such as pigs or poultry to sustain their very meager subsistence livelihoods.
The influx of large numbers of returnees will also impact, in broad terms, on community drinking water requirements, on sanitation, on housing, on education, on health needs and on jobs, just to name but a few concerns that I envisage.
Past government initiatives proposed to directly address rural poverty experienced by at least 80 percent of the population sadly failed to materialise over the past two decades in my experience and now some really urgent measures must be implemented by way of assistance if chronic poverty is to be reduced and returning former residents become unwelcome and a burden on their wantoks, putting a strain the customary practices that have long endured.
There is no clear indicator how long the coronavirus pandemic will last and there is no vaccine yet available to stem the disease and the longer the disease remains a threat the longer it will be before some people might choose to return to Honiara.
It does seem to me, however, that the long-delayed rural development plans be given priority, if donor support can be sourced during such unprecedented times, and see the informal sector become an attractive place to gainfully work and a place to call home again.