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 the Solomon Islands in August 2013. There are still 250 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.

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Henson Makoani (left) of Solomon Islands Ministry for Education and Human Resource Development, with VSA/Downer engineer Kim Keown.

What we’re doing in Solomon Islands

In the 2016-17 year, VSA volunteers undertook 17 assignments with seven partner organisations. VSA continued to support education in Solomon Islands, largely through our partnership with Downer. We provided Infrastructure Advisers to the Assets Management Division of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD). We also had an Education Adviser with World Vision, focusing on early childhood education, and a Library Adviser with the Honiara City Council.

We supported economic governance through a Legal Adviser for the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS), ICT through an IT Adviser for Isabel Provincial Government and private sector development through a range of assignments including a Radio Programming Adviser and an Architecture Technical Adviser.

Read more about how VSA Downer volunteer cadets are improving education facilities in the Solomons.

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