The Solomon Islands has over 900 islands, 5,000 rural villages and 550,000 people. Between 1999 and 2003 it experienced a period of conflict which took a heavy toll on the country and left a need for reconciliation and on-going peace and security measures.
A request for assistance by the government in 2003 led Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Island countries to form the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which restored peace and security.
In 2012 RAMSI began a transition into a smaller, police-focused mission, removing the military component and working with partners on sustainable development. This transition has now been completed, with the last of the military personnel leaving Solomon Islands in August 2013. There are still New Zealand and Australian police officers helping to build capacity within Solomon Islands community policing.
Forestry products are Solomon Islands’ main export, with the logging industry accounting for around 70 per cent of exports and 10 per cent of government revenue. Many of the country’s natural timber resources have been exploited by foreign companies leaving little benefit for the local population. There has also been an increase in mining activity throughout the country.
What we’re doing in Solomon Islands
The VSA Solomon Islands Programme focuses on four priority sectors:
VSA has established a strong presence in Solomon Islands through its ongoing partnerships with multiple in-country partners, including strong relationships with Solomon Islands Government.
VSA’s assignments and long-term corporate partnership with Downer continue to demonstrate the value of strong partnerships and the exchange of skills and ideas. Downer engineers, volunteer as Infrastructure Advisers with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development. During their assignments, the young engineers help build infrastructure but also develop capacity at the Ministry. They also have opportunities to engage with youth who are involved in the projects.
Check out the story of Downer Volunteer Roseanne Ulunga here!