Posts Tagged ‘Solomon Islands’

Via Island Sun (Solomon Islands)

“We (Ma’asina) are trying to find solutions whereby we can specifically help the people of Malaita. This is because the contributions that have been done by Malaitans in the past, it was the whole nation that benefited from them.”

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THE MALAITA Ma’asina Forum (MMF) is considering the establishment of a commercial bank for Malaita people. This followed a number of issues, which MMF feels the national and provincial governments have utterly overlooked in terms of development in the province.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday, newly elected president of MMF Charles Dausabea explained the proposal had arisen because the Solomons’ development path was not working for the Malaitan people.

“Therefore, as sons of the Malaitans, we (Ma’asina) are trying to find solutions whereby we can specifically help the people of Malaita. This is because the contributions that have been done by Malaitans in the past, it was the whole nation that benefited from them.”

He claimed that Malaitans’ share of the economy is imbalanced nowadays, despite the contributions and wisdoms of their fathers.

“The executive has finally agreed to set up a Malaita bank for Malaita people,” Dausabea said in May. “We have made a new decision that we will be more focused on the development approach including the well-being of the Malaita people.”

He added that this idea was to give Malaitans the opportunities to access finance and for them to be involved in the domestic economy of Malaita. Malaita people in rural areas would be able to access finance.

“In this way, the people of Malaita can experience the benefits of their direct contribution towards our local economy which will in turn have a huge impact on the national economy.”

However, before the intention could be made a reality, the technical committee appointed will be engaged to carry out a feasibility study and run awareness to the people in Malaita regarding the initiative.

Speaking on behalf of the appointed research team for the project, Martin Housanau said in order to have a strong national and Malaitan economy, “we must have our own financial institution.” Housanau added that it is also through the involvement of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that the country will be able to have a strong economy, but that currently there was a lack of finance for SMEs.

Housanau said establishing a Malaitan financial institution would allow all economic development projects in Malaita including Auluta, Bina Harbor and Waisisi to be funded.

“Not only will it be able to fund the big projects which Ma’asina claimed not have seen any tangible progress in, it can also help those Small Medium Enterprises in Malaita which can directly contribute towards their domestic economy,” Housanau said.

The Technical Committee team leader also said the initative would increase employment opportunities.

Housanau said the proposal would not progress unless there were positive outcomes from dialogues between the Forum’s executive with the relevant authorities and the people of Malaita.

Meanwhile, MMF President Dausabea acknowledged and thanked the forefathers of the Malaitan people whose “contribution towards the development of Solomon Islands are the pillars the country is standing on, even today”.

Four Solomon Islanders recently set out on a fact-finding mission to Papua New Guinea to learn from their experiences in mining. In Bougainville they discovered many believe that ‘real development’ does not come from mining but from hard work and control of their own natural resources. 

By Stephen Suti Agalo and Patrick Pikacha

The Solomon Islands is blessed with rich natural resources in our forests, oceans and rocks. We know these resources are the key to unlocking the development potential of our islands and delivering essential services to our people.

But experiences from the past decades of logging have demonstrated that if we are not careful our resources can be exploited without any development to show for it.

The vast majority of landowners involved in logging for a short period lived in hotels and drove nice cars and boats.

Now they are back in a leaf house, paddling a canoe and struggling for school fees. Now our forests are all gone but where are the schools? Where are the hospitals? Where did the money go?

In Bougainville we observed the devastation left after mining led to a war that killed over 15,000 people.

However now the Bougainville economy is growing and the region is being developed not from mining but from agriculture.

The unique geology and volcanoes that makes Bougainville and the Solomons good for mining also makes the soil very fertile and ideal for agriculture.

Through hard work Bougainvilleans are earning money and developing their island from copra, rice, cocoa and vanilla.

Many people told us that with the agriculture and small scale panning of alluvial gold they now have more money available at the family level than they did when the multi-billion dollar copper mine was operating.

They explained to us that money gained from mining is whiteman money and only good for short term whiteman things like hotels and fancy food, but money we earn from sweat and agriculture is real money that leads to real development.

*Extracted from the article ‘Delegation returns from PNG with lessons on mining’, Solomon Star July 2, 2012. Full article here: http://ramumine.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/solomon-star-png-mining-article-mr.jpg

By John Roughan

Visitors to the Solomons always bring baggage with them. I speak not of the luggage we carry off the plane, but the mental baggage we bring when we meet Solomon Islanders for the first time. The mental baggage I speak of is tied up with our own national and personal identities, our normal patterns of social interaction, our (so-called) ‘first world’ economic understandings.

This baggage is not unusual, one could almost say inevitable. But our other nation lifestyles also get in the way of seeing the value of a different worldview.

My first assignment as a missionary priest was to Tarapaina Misson Station on Small Mala in the East Are language area. My first village visit on Malaita’s east coast, a small hamlet called Hotonima close to East Kwaio language line, was both an eye-opener and profoundly disturbing. These people, I was convinced, owned nothing. No radios, no machines, nothing that I could label as wealth: yet they were as happy as any I had ever met.

They greeted me as some kind of extra special guest, insisted I stay in the village’s only house that boasted a wooden floor and fed me on my first night in the ‘bush’ with the best they had: a newly roasted yam with a separate plate of coconut flavored cabbage. To this day a roasted yam remains my favorite kai kai. But I kept asking myself: how can these people who looked so healthy, well-built and happy beyond description be that way without any wealth to speak of?

Unknown to me at the time, I was experiencing a steep learning curve. Here in a Solomons village, everyday life’s essentials – food, shelter, water, fuel, medicine, etc. – was found a short walk away in the nearby bush. Moreover, the typical person’s deepest spiritual needs – security, safety, peace, sense of identity—were also evident. These basic life essentials were theirs automatically. They came with membership in the local community. Moreover, people enjoyed these profound securities free of charge, as the village’s gift to them.

Not so when a villager moved to an urban centre. So a fundamental lesson was coming home to me loud and clear: how critical village living is for the wellbeing of the nation.

From the very beginning of its existence in early 1982, the Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) questioned prevailing development wisdom, which did not recognise this inherent wealth and capital owned by village people.

SIDT’s initial task was formidable: to unlearn villagers from thinking of development as something initiated from the outside through heavy overseas funding, and to convince them to accept the idea that development was fundamentally an internal process locally owned and directed.

SIDT taught that development was fundamentally a home-grown exercise, more in need of local leadership than overseas funding and was more about improving village life than focusing in on national airlines, paved roads, and other projects so beloved by politicians.

It made little sense to the newly formed organization to fund such projects when villagers’ very life sources – their forests, streams, ground, reefs – were being destroyed by commercial logging companies, mining enterprises and cash cropping groups

As SIDT’s experiences grew working closely with village communities, it became clear that many rural problems really started in the urban area. Lack of clear, precise information, for example. plagued the rural majority. Where could a villager, in fact, obtain solid information so as to make wise decisions?

In recent times, major transformational forces on village life – modernization, technological change, cash economy-driven  economic development etc. – have reduced confidence in the nation and in the ability of its customary political leadership to defend much less promoted villager interests.

In the Solomons, then, the word ‘village’ acts as a code word. It is the major sociological factor of the nation–more than 84% of the population resides there, it controls access to the country’s mineral, agricultural, water and timber wealth. The village acts forever like a prism through which the vast majority of island people view the world.  It must be factored into our deepest understanding of how important and vital it is to the majority of the daily lives of our people.