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Program commenced: 1964
Total number of placements: 320 (as of 6 July, 2011)
Number of current placements: 19 (as of 6 July, 2011)
AVI Programs: Volunteer Program, PACTAF, PACTAM, Graduate Program, Aboriginal Women’s Tour, Solomon Islands ICLARM Giant Clams Project, United Nations Volunteer Program, Melanesian Women’s Tour
The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of islands and coral atolls to the east of Papua New Guinea. Named by a Spanish explorer who thought they could be the source of King Solomon's gold, the islands were a British protectorate from the 1890s until independence in 1978 and are still a Commonwealth nation.
The Solomons were the location of some of the most heated battles of WWII, such as the Battle of Guadalcanal. From the late 90s, the islands went through a period of ethnic violence, somewhat stabilised following the installation of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003.
With a population of half a million spread across 900 islands, the economy is based heavily on agriculture and delivery of services can be difficult.
Contact our Solomon Island & Vanuatu program office.
Solomon Islands is ranked in the bottom quarter of medium human developed countries (as measured by the Human Development Index). There are a number of socio-economic issues confronting Solomon Islands that have caused this low ranking.
Foremost among these is the issue of poverty. Job opportunities are in short supply, with little formal employment outside Honiara. The situation is aggravated by rising unemployment, especially among the youth. Further, exasperating poverty is the high population growth in Solomon Islands, currently at 2.54 per cent (2007) - among the highest in the world.
There is also growing regional disparities with provincial development lagging behind the main centres. For example, transport and communications in rural areas remains limited, and inadequate infrastructure and unrealistic planning are further problems.
Solomon Islands also has one of the lowest rates of adult literacy in the region, variously estimated at between 25 and 40 per cent. This is largely due to the low school enrolment levels in Solomon Islands. At least 20-25 per cent of the school-age children never attend primary school and an estimated 30 per cent drop out before completing primary. Further, only half of children attending primary school can be placed in secondary school and the vast majority are forced out by form five.
For up-to-date information and statistics on socio-economic development issues in Solomon Islands, please refer to the following sources:
Asian Development Bank - Solomon Islands Country Profile
UNDP Human Development Report
Solomon Islands Association of Rural Training Centres
Many health indicators in Solomon Islands are still poor, including the availability and performance of health facilities. Further complicating this is that there is a major shortage in trained medical personnel. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the population of Solomon Islands is dispersed across a vast area and numerous islands - making it even more difficult to provide cost effective health services to the isolated areas and outer islands. Similarly access to improved water sources remains a problem with an estimated 30 per cent living without such a basic resource.
For up-to-date information and statistics on health issues in Solomon Islands, please refer to:
WHO Solomon Islands country profile
The last decades have seen the close relationship between communities and their natural resources progressively eroded under the combined pressures of rapid social and economic changes and the perceived benefits of involvement in the cash economy. As such, environmental issues are now a major source of concern for development in Solomon Islands.
It is estimated that logging levels in 2003 were three times above sustainable levels. At the local level, such exploitation can leave communities with severe environmental problems (such as erosion and silt build up in the lagoons affecting fish stocks and coral preservation) and deprive them of their traditional livelihood sources while generating little in sustainable benefits for the broader community.
Commercial and subsistence activities are putting increasing pressure on coastal resources. Most stocks of commercial invertebrates (trochus, many species of beche de mer, green snail and pearl shells) are routinely over harvested, leading to 'boom-bust' cycles in fishery productivity (with the 'booms' becoming less frequent and pronounced). Turtles are still widely and unsustainably hunted for subsistence despite a ban on all harvesting of turtles in the fisheries legislation. Mangroves are over harvested in many areas, and few efforts are made to replant. Increased pressure is also being brought to bear on finfish stocks through local and export markets.
For further information, please refer to the following resources:
The South Pacific Regional Environment Program
World Wildlife Fund - Solomon Islands