Solomon Islands: Foreign aid and development assistance.
On 7 July this year it will be 42 years since the Solomon Islands became an independent nation but its independence is still very much dependent on foreign aid and development assistance.
World development experts, over the past 20 or so years, called for greater political will for locally driven self-sustaining economic growth and development.
As much as there may be a desire to reduce the dependency on outside aid, I see the need for foreign aid to continue as the Solomon Islands economy shrinks because of climate change and the unexpected and dreadful impact of COVID-19 having spread across the world stage.
If donor aid was seriously reduced, health and education standards and needs would drastically reduce – with shortages of medical and technical staff, lack of medicines, specialist medical equipment and hospital facilities.
Where would the Solomon Islands have been without the help of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the European Union, China (PRC) and most recently Japan without the vital equipment to undergo testing for Covid-19, to adapt hospital facilities into Isolation Wards, Intensive Care (ICU) Units and provide Quarantine facilities?
One must hope that once the threat of COVID-19 is over the Solomon Islands with its wealth of natural resources will have developed its infrastructure to the extent that it will experience economic growth and to be able to reduce its dependency on outside aid.
As much as I hope to be able to witnesses less dependency on aid, I remind myself that climate change poses a serious threat to achieving true independence.
The devastation brought about by the recent tropical category 5 cyclone, Cyclone Harold, which brought havoc across the region in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands demonstrated how much aid and humanitarian assistance was needed, and is still needed, to re-build homes and lives, especially in Vanuatu.
In the 42 years of the Solomon Islands independence, a new report issued bythe Solomon Islands Social Accountability Coalition (SISAC tells how a media team from SISAC successfully completed a weeklong tour in the Western Province to capture issues faced by rural communities on healthcare access and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stories were gathered across communities in Simbo, Ranonga and North Vella to amplify and bring people’s concerns and demand for quality essential services.
Issues captured include some harsh conditions with nurses forced to work with, the extreme lengths rural residents face to access health facilities and services, and the rural impression of the government’s COVID-19 response.
The media team found some of the conditions of the health service in the rural areas just unimaginable.
The SISAC reports begs the question why is it that the health service in the rural areas of the Western Province is described as “unimaginable” despite 42 years of donor aid?