FAQs Returned Volunteers

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VSA in Solomon Islands

Flag of Solomon Islands

VSA has been in the Solomon Islands since 1965. We are currently working in Choiseul Province, Isabel Province and Honiara but have worked in most of the nine provinces in the past. VSA has a field office in Honiara, staffed by a Programme Manager and a Country Programme Officer.


Living and Working in the Solomon Islands


Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training (pijin) at the start of assignments and follow up training if necessary during assignment.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. For example, in conversation, people do not usually approach things head on. In Melanesia there is a saying that, "if you want to enter the front door, you walk all the way around the house first."

Gender relationships

The Solomon Islands is a strongly patriarchal society and holds conservative attitudes about the role of men and women in society. Women tend to socialise with women, and men with men. 

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation with gas facilities for cooking. In Honiara, you will have access to power (although power outages can occur), phone, internet, piped water, restaurants, a variety of shops and large expatriate population. Provincial towns are well serviced compared to rural areas, and most have access to power. In rural areas, power will be generator-based if it is available. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier, or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

The Solomon Islands is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best for the climate and culturally appropriate. For men choose long pants, knee length shorts and short sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events. Being barefoot inside the house is the rule and remember that rural areas and provincial towns will be more conservative than Honiara.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of the Solomon Islands and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Dengue has also been known to be an issue. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around the majority of Honiara and provincial centres during the day but it is not safe to walk alone in Honiara after dark. Over 98 per cent of land and coastal marine area is in traditional ownership. Strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission – always take a trusted local person with you.

Banking and finances

We open a local bank account for all volunteers on arrival in the Solomons where monthly living allowances are paid into. There are ANZ, Westpac and Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) branches in Honiara and all provincial centres have a BSP agent where you can withdraw money. A number of provincial centres also have solar-powered ANZ ATMs but BSP customers must withdraw funds through a teller. Local currency is the Solomon Islands dollar. Visit Westpac for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

The Solomon Islands has two cellular providers – Telekom and Bemobile. Coverage is increasing but is not always reliable. When cellular coverage is working, you can text and call internationally, but calls can be expensive. Internet connections are limited and slow compared to New Zealand. There are Telekom buildings in the provincial centres and these are often the only places to send and receive faxes, check emails and use public pay phones.

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In-country partner profile

Choiseul Provincial Government

View Profile


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Meet Anita Edgcombe

An interview with Anita Edgecombe, Programme Manager (Solomon Islands)

Anita is VSA's programme manager (Solomon Islands), based in Honiara.

Read more

Quick facts


  • Official languages are Melanesian pijin, English (spoken by only 1%-2% of the population) and 120 indigenous languages.

  • Solomons Independence Day is 7 July.

  • There is a mixed legal system of English common law and customary law.

  • The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for their livelihoods.

  • Most manufactured goods and petroleum products are imported.

  • Solomon Islands has a Human Development Index rating of 157 (2014 UN Human Development Report).

  • There are about 50 mobile phones per 100 people.

  • Life expectancy is 67.9 years.
Source: CIA Factbook , UN Development Programme International human development indicators

See how this compares to NZ standards

NZ Quick Facts


  • New Zealand’s wildlife is dominated by an estimated 245 bird species. New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other place on earth and no native land mammals except for bats.

  • Auckland is the biggest city. The other main centres are Hamilton, Wellington (the capital), Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • New Zealand has a Human Development Index rating of 6.

  • Polynesian settlers arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand around the 10th century. The first Europeans to visit the country were Dutch explorers led by Abel Tasman in 1642.

  • The Māori name for the country is Aotearoa: “land of the long white cloud.” The English name New Zealand comes from the Dutch Nieuw Zeeland, a region in the Netherlands.

  • In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi established British law and government, and was followed by warfare in the 1840s and 1860s as Māori sought to defend their lands and local authority. The country became a dominion of Britain in 1907 and became independent in

  • The official languages are English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

  • New Zealand has more than 50 volcanoes, some of which are still active.

  • New Zealand has about 0.1% of the world’s population, but produces about 0.3% of the world’s material output.

Contact

If you are interested in becoming an in-country partner organisation with VSA in the Solomon Islands, contact us at the address below. Alternatively, email us by clicking the 'Contact us' button right at the bottom of this page.

VSA, PO Box 1714, Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS



VSA volunteer profiles

Adele Cubitt (past volunteer) – Legal Adviser (Research), Honiara

Adele Cubitt worked as a Legal Adviser (Research) at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Solomon Islands. She completed her assignment in July 2011. View Profile


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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.

Solomon Islands children gather at an open hut where a man is playing a violin

 

Learn more about the Solomon Islands conflict.

 

What we’re doing in the Solomon Islands

 

Our volunteers work with our in-country partners to strengthen education, infrastructure, leadership and rural livelihoods, build good governance and promote economic and social development options particularly for women and urban youth.

Unemployment rates are high, with few vocational training opportunities available to people living in villages. Our volunteers are working in several sectors of the economy, providing support for conservation programmes, markets and small business associations.

The numbers of children enrolled in school in the Solomons are some of the lowest in the Pacific region. A shortage of educational management skills, trained teachers and resources presents a fundamental challenge.

VSA volunteers are working through Education Authorities to support effective education leadership and management, quality teacher training and effective resources.

Strengthening law and order, and governance and public service delivery following the conflict in the early 2000s are key challenges. We have volunteers at both national and provincial government level helping to develop and maintain strong governance through legal support. VSA is also working with the Honiara City Council to assist with urban planning and legal advice.

 

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

 

Latest on Solomon Islands

 

 

Living and Working in the Solomon Islands


Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training (pijin) at the start of assignments and follow up training if necessary during assignment.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. For example, in conversation, people do not usually approach things head on. In Melanesia there is a saying that, "if you want to enter the front door, you walk all the way around the house first."

Gender relationships

The Solomon Islands is a strongly patriarchal society and holds conservative attitudes about the role of men and women in society. Women tend to socialise with women, and men with men. 

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation with gas facilities for cooking. In Honiara, you will have access to power (although power outages can occur), phone, internet, piped water, restaurants, a variety of shops and large expatriate population. Provincial towns are well serviced compared to rural areas, and most have access to power. In rural areas, power will be generator-based if it is available. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier, or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

The Solomon Islands is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best for the climate and culturally appropriate. For men choose long pants, knee length shorts and short sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events. Being barefoot inside the house is the rule and remember that rural areas and provincial towns will be more conservative than Honiara.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of the Solomon Islands and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Dengue has also been known to be an issue. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around the majority of Honiara and provincial centres during the day but it is not safe to walk alone in Honiara after dark. Over 98 per cent of land and coastal marine area is in traditional ownership. Strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission – always take a trusted local person with you.

Banking and finances

We open a local bank account for all volunteers on arrival in the Solomons where monthly living allowances are paid into. There are ANZ, Westpac and Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) branches in Honiara and all provincial centres have a BSP agent where you can withdraw money. A number of provincial centres also have solar-powered ANZ ATMs but BSP customers must withdraw funds through a teller. Local currency is the Solomon Islands dollar. Visit Westpac for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

The Solomon Islands has two cellular providers – Telekom and Bemobile. Coverage is increasing but is not always reliable. When cellular coverage is working, you can text and call internationally, but calls can be expensive. Internet connections are limited and slow compared to New Zealand. There are Telekom buildings in the provincial centres and these are often the only places to send and receive faxes, check emails and use public pay phones.

Living and Working in the Solomon Islands
Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training (pijin) at the start of assignments and follow up training if necessary during assignment.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. For example, in conversation, people do not usually approach things head on. In Melanesia there is a saying that, "if you want to enter the front door, you walk all the way around the house first."

Gender relationships

The Solomon Islands is a strongly patriarchal society and holds conservative attitudes about the role of men and women in society. Women tend to socialise with women, and men with men. 

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation with gas facilities for cooking. In Honiara, you will have access to power (although power outages can occur), phone, internet, piped water, restaurants, a variety of shops and large expatriate population. Provincial towns are well serviced compared to rural areas, and most have access to power. In rural areas, power will be generator-based if it is available. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier, or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

The Solomon Islands is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best for the climate and culturally appropriate. For men choose long pants, knee length shorts and short sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events. Being barefoot inside the house is the rule and remember that rural areas and provincial towns will be more conservative than Honiara.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of the Solomon Islands and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Dengue has also been known to be an issue. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around the majority of Honiara and provincial centres during the day but it is not safe to walk alone in Honiara after dark. Over 98 per cent of land and coastal marine area is in traditional ownership. Strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission – always take a trusted local person with you.

Banking and finances

We open a local bank account for all volunteers on arrival in the Solomons where monthly living allowances are paid into. There are ANZ, Westpac and Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) branches in Honiara and all provincial centres have a BSP agent where you can withdraw money. A number of provincial centres also have solar-powered ANZ ATMs but BSP customers must withdraw funds through a teller. Local currency is the Solomon Islands dollar. Visit Westpac for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

The Solomon Islands has two cellular providers – Telekom and Bemobile. Coverage is increasing but is not always reliable. When cellular coverage is working, you can text and call internationally, but calls can be expensive. Internet connections are limited and slow compared to New Zealand. There are Telekom buildings in the provincial centres and these are often the only places to send and receive faxes, check emails and use public pay phones.