WORLD Bank has approved an additional funding of USD$1.5 million (SBD$$12 million) that will ensure the Rapid Employment Project (REP) continues for another year until December 2016.
The additional assistance is made up of US$0.5 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association, and US$1 million from the Crisis Response Window – the World Bank’s special fund for use following exceptionally severe natural disaster and economic shocks.
Signing the release of fund was Minister of Finance, Synder Rini who also signed the original REP agreement in 2010.
Minister Rini said he was pleased on how the project has progressed since its inception and has taken a new direction.
“Honiara communities stand to benefit from improved access to services and markets, through the construction of new climate resilient roads and the maintenance of existing infrastructure under the Rapid Employment Project,” Mr Rini said.
World Bank Country Manager, Anne Tully said REP has taken a new direction involving the improvement of infrastructures that are climate resilience and help address the unemployment issue.
This can be proven with the well-known Jacob’s ladders built that have employed many community youths within Honiara, she said.
“We have also seen the damage caused by the 2014 flash floods in Honiara,” said World Bank Country Manager, Anne Tully.
“The impacts of weather events can be minimized through climate resilient infrastructure, such as roads and footpaths.”
Ministry of Infrastructure Development Permanent Secretary, Henry Murray said the project’s infrastructure plans fit in well with the national strategy to develop Solomon Islands road network.
“In addition to improving transport access, climate resilient roads will result in lower maintenance costs for road repairs, faster travel and lower vehicle operational costs,” said Mr Murray.
Honiara City Mayor, Alfrence Fatai showed appreciation of REP said the project has touched many lives and helps address some of the very basic issues in the city.
“The Honiara City Council likewise has seen the impact of REP within our communities, and I am pleased that our partnership will continue for a further 18 months,” said Mayor, Fatai.
The Rapid Employment Project started in 2010 when concerns of growing unemployment in Honiara by the Solomon Islands Government.
Over the past five years, REP has generated short-term employment through labor-based public works, including road repairs and maintenance, footpath repairs and construction, and garbage collection.
More than US$2 million has been paid in wages and 600,000 days in labor have been created for more than 9,700 people – half of whom are women and youth.
Additionally, 11,000 people from vulnerable communities have taken part in REP’s pre-employment training program to attain basic skills for employment since then.
Under this new additional funding, two kilometers of climate resilient roads will be upgraded in Honiara.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI