THE recent devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu was another reminder of the vulnerability of the Pacific region to natural disasters.
The road to recovery following a disaster is so often a long one requiring a huge commitment of time, energy and resources.
Of course, Solomon Islands has not been immune from the impact of natural disasters with this month marking one year since the April 2014 floods.
It was a trying time for Solomon Islands with more than 50,000 people affected, including 10,000 people displaced and major damage to infrastructure across Honiara and Guadalcanal.
A year down the track, we’ve been reflecting on the effectiveness of Australia’s A$7 million contribution to the response and recovery effort.
In the weeks and months after the floods, our support enabled the Solomon Island Red Cross to deliver clean drinking water to an estimated 53,000 people in East Guadalcanal, 3,600 in West Guadalcanal and 10,000 beneficiaries in Honiara.
Our funds also enabled the Red Cross to provide household kits to over 2,800 households.
Our funding for Oxfam enabled it to reach over 1800 households in about 40 communities providing, tools, seeds and training to help families restore their livelihoods and food security.
And our additional fundingfor the National Transport Fund enabled the rapid restoration of roads and bridges in both East and West Guadalcanal.
So although the impact of last April’s floods will be felt in Solomon Islands for a long time – not least by those who lost loved ones and homes – we’re happy that Australia was able to help speed the rate of recovery.
Let’s hope the same can be done for our suffering neighbours in Vanuatu.
Next Saturday 25 April will be ANZAC Day, the day when Australians and New Zealanders remember and honour those who’ve served our countries in wartime.
This year’s anniversary will be a very special one, marking 100 years to the day since Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey and created the ANZAC legend.
It’s a special day for all Australians and for me personally – my great grandfather, Matthew Byrne, arrived in Gallipoli as a reinforcement a few weeks after the initial landing.
He survived there for six months before being withdrawn and then spent the next three years fighting on horseback across the deserts of North Africa and Palestine.
A remarkable experience for a young market gardener from South Australia.
But my great grandfather’s story is just one example among the hundreds of thousands of men and women who’ve served Australia and New Zealand over the past century.
We’ll be remembering and honouring those men and women at the traditional Dawn Service at the Cenotaph (next to Central Police Station) next Saturday morning. All are welcome to join us.
From the Australian High Commissioner’s Desk