22 April 2016
Australian aid: fighting poverty in Solomon Islands
Living standards across Solomon Islands are improving according to a poverty analysis recently released by the National Statistics Office.
The Solomon Islands Poverty Profile, produced in conjunction with the World Bank and funded by the Australian Government, found that the number of Solomon Islanders living in poverty has decreased by 8% since 2005.
Australian High Commissioner Andrew Byrne welcomed the release of the report last week and reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to working with the Solomon Islands Government and other development partners to continue the fight against poverty in Solomon Islands.
“It’s pleasing to see that the efforts of the Solomon Islands Government and development partners to address poverty are making a difference for the people of Solomon Islands.”
High Commissioner Byrne acknowledged that there is still more work to be done to ensure that poverty continues to decrease.
“Sadly, 12% of Solomon Islanders – that’s 80,000 people – are living in poverty and 25,000 people don’t have enough food to eat on a daily basis,” said High Commissioner Byrne.
“We must continue to work together to ensure these people are lifted out of poverty”.
“Through our partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, Australia is working to improve the lives of Solomon Islanders and reduce poverty.”
“We continue to invest A$92 million or about S$550 million each year to support stability, enable economic growth and enhance human development in Solomon Islands.”
The report found that 87% of those living in poverty were in rural areas. Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita have the highest rates of poverty in the country.
“Australian aid is working to improve the standard of living for all Solomon Islanders but particularly those in the provinces where poverty is higher,” said High Commissioner Byrne.
“For example, in health, the Australian Government is helping to improve access to services and patient care, particularly in rural areas. Australia’s health funding supports medicine distribution, and operating costs of nurse aid posts, health clinics and provincial hospitals.”
“Australia is also partnering with the World Bank to support rural development and livelihoods by funding priority village infrastructure, agricultural extension and rural business development across the Solomon Islands.”
“And we are working to extend financial services to rural populations, particularly rural women, through innovations in mobile phone and branchless banking technologies.”
“Through our new economic growth program, we are considering how the Australian Government might further support economic development right across Solomon Islands.”
The Poverty Profile also confirms the importance of education in reducing poverty, finding that about forty percent of poor Solomon Islanders live in households in which the head of the household does not have at least six years of primary schooling.
“Education is crucial when it comes to improving living standards, and leads to higher income for individuals and their families,” said High Commissioner Byrne.
“A significant portion of Australian aid is dedicated to ensuring children receive quality primary and secondary schooling and are able to continue to build on that education through tertiary study or vocational training.”
The Poverty Profile provides the most current information on the living standards across Solomon Islands. This information is crucial for the Solomon Islands Government and development partners to effectively target development funding and programs to ensure that they reach the most vulnerable people and contribute to further improvements in living standards.