Solomons enters reconstruction phase post-floods
Planning for medium to long term recovery and reconstruction in Solomon Islands following April's floods has been complicated by the fact that hundreds of people still don't have a home.
Planning for medium to long term recovery and reconstruction in Solomon islands following April's floods has been complicated by the fact that hundreds of people still don't have a home.
Thousands of people in Honiara didn't have legal access to the land they were living on at the time of the floods, leaving them in a precarious situation.
As Bridget Tunnicliffe reports, the government's had to make some tough decisions about how to deal with them.
The National Disaster Management office in Solomon Islands is still waiting to repatriate about 1,000 people who were displaced by the flooding. The director Loti Yates says they are encouraging families to return to their villages, where they have extended family and in many cases, a home. He says many have lived in Honiara for years but low paying jobs forced them to live in cheap housing in flood prone areas.
LOTI YATES: The only way they can survive in town is by living in cheap areas and so we have people who are working and renting houses along the banks that are built on land that is in high risk areas especially in the case of the Mataniko river bank settlers.
Loti Yates says the main income earner may opt to stay in Honiara and their families can always return to the capital once alternative accommodation is found. The head of Oxfam in Solomon Islands says many people badly affected by the flooding in Honiara lived in squatter areas and did not have legal and permanent access to the land that they were living on. The director Katie Greenwood says once their homes were destroyed, they didn't have any proof that they had legitimate access to that land because land permits are hard to come by. She says there weren't many options and the government had to make some tough decisions about where people should go.
KATIE GREENWOOD: I do think that some people are facing difficult situations of adjusting to going back to their provincial and village homes and everything that that entails for their family, like any family anywhere everything that is entailed in a move of that kind of upheaval.
Katie Greenwood says some people have been disappointed with the size of the repatriation package provided by the government, and access to information about what they would be receiving. The officer for the UNDPs Pacific Risk and Resilience Programme, Adi Galokepoto, says with the focus shifting to long term recovery, shelter, livelihoods, education, and health are high priorities. Adi Galokepoto says one of the challenges is to get clear information out to flood victims about what help they might be eligible for. She says more work still needs to be done to understand how they can best help people.
ADI GALOKEPOTO: Like what are the areas where they would really identify as the key priority needs in the community, that's still yet to be identified because currently there's only a broad assessment been done but then to find more about what are the needs at the community level.
The Ministry of Development, Planning and Aid Coordination is spearheading the recovery effort. The Permanent Secretary Jeremiah Manele says they're pulling together information from various NGOs and other organisations to formulate a recovery plan, which it aims to have ready by early next month. The Recovery Coordination Committee, which was established just before the April floods, is developing the plan, with involvement from stakeholders. Jeremiah Manele says the plan will support a multi-sector coordinated recovery and reconstruction process, which is different to how Solomon Islands has operated in the past.
JEREMIAH MANELE: This is the first time that we are sort of putting into action this process which is part of the National Disaster Plan, allowing the Ministry of Planning to take the lead in terms of coming up with a recovery plan so of course there will be lessons learnt in the process which will be useful for future situations.
Meanwhile the National Disaster Management office hopes government funding for repatriation packages will come through this week to help relocate people still staying in evacuation centres.
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