Rural and urban divide: Lessen the gap - Solomon Star News


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Rural and urban divide: Lessen the gap

17 June 2014

I am writing this article from the provincial capital of the Western Province, Gizo.

The last time I visited Gizo was in December year 2000.

There were some obvious developments in Gizo over the last 14 years.

These include new shops and buildings, new hospital, and more vehicles. Just to name a few.

However, the condition of some of the buildings has deteriorated, water supply is still a problem and the condition of the road within the township has not improved.

I tried to watch the World Cup from my room at the Gizo Hotel, but the reception was not that clear. I kept seeing two images of each of the players running around.

These situations were different to what I experience in Honiara.

I am experiencing the difference between the rural and urban Solomon Islands.

I travelled all the way to Vella La Vella Island for my one-week break.

I visited Lambu Lambu village, which is located almost midway between South and North Vella La Vella.

The village used to have a Wharf, two big shops that were stocked with all the basic household necessities, a health aid post, and piped water supply in the late 1990s.

So, the village was well-off compared to other Solomon Islands villages.

However, these services are no longer available to the people of Lambu Lambu village.

The village was one of the Vella La Vella villages affected by the 2007 tsunami.

The Lambu Lambu Wharf was submerged two meters under water since the 2007 Tsunami.

The village water supply was also damaged and was never repaired, to date.

The village shops were no longer operational.

The entire village and school had to be relocated further inland.

Although there were some new permanent houses built by the people of this village since 2000, the quality of life has not improved much.

This is partly due to the effect of the 2007 tsunami and negligence by the responsible Provincial and National Governments.

The village was also disconnected from the rest of the Solomon Islands because there were no network connections to any of the two telecommunication companies in the country.

People had to walk or paddle long distances in order to make a phone call to Gizo or other parts of the country.

I was simply out of touch with the rest of my family and work colleagues for the entire week I was there.

These are challenges faced by the people of Lambu Lambu that needs to be addressed.

It depicts the rural-urban divide experienced in many rural communities throughout the Solomon Islands.

Lambu Lambu Village is just an hour and half boat ride from Gizo town, and has the potential of becoming one of the commercial Centres in Vella La Vella.

It has been, and still is, one of the copra buying points in South Vella La Vella and has the potential of venturing into other commercial activities, including the tourism industry.

To lessen the rural-urban gap for the people of Lambu Lambu community the physical infrastructure connecting the community to other main villages in Vella La Vella, and the Western Province must be fixed.

The Shops need to be revived to serve the people of Lambu Lambu and surrounding communities.

The Lambu Lambu water supply needs to be revived and maintained.

The community needs to be connected to the rest of Solomon Islands and the world through telecommunication networks.

These are some of the gaps that need to be filled to advance economic activities in our rural villages, and improve the quality of life of our rural people.