US Embassy (Port Moresby) clarifies its USD25m funding with focus on Malaita
Last week and again this week, the less informed accused senior journalist Alfred Sasako of being anti-Malaita on account of articles written about the USD25 million of US funding to Solomon Islands with a focus on Malaita.
Many were told the money would be given directly to the Malaita Provincial Government.
Malaita Development Forum, the social media platform the misinformed used, went into a frenzy with threats and profanities here and there.
Undeterred, Alfred sought and received clarification from Mr. Chad Morris, [Public Affairs and Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy Port Moresby] on who gets the funding. Mr. Morris kindly provided the clarification in the form of questions and answers.
Q. Are the funds being provided directly to the Malaita Provincial Government? If not, what percentage of it will be given directly to the Malaita Provincial Government?
Morris: USAID does not provide direct funding to national or local governments, so none of the funding will go to the Malaita provincial government. Rather, USAID works through implementing partners, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
It is important to note that the recent announcement relates to Congressional approval of the funding. In fact, USAID has been developing this program for more than two years. Now that funding is approved, the project can move to the next step, which is identifying and then working with implementing partners to develop a work plan for specific activities and projects. These have yet to be identified, but the primary objective of Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Program is to advance the Solomon Islands’ economic competitiveness and inclusiveness with specific emphasis on the development of the agribusiness sector and improved management of the forestry sector.
This will be carried out through three sub-objectives:
(a) Improve the enabling environment for increased trade and investment;
(b) Promote the expansion and further development of the agribusiness sector; and
(c) Improve governance of the forestry sector.
Q. Who will administer it? (names of entity(ies) would be great)
Morris: USAID will administer the program, to be delivered, as I mentioned above, by implementing partners. As referenced in the Solomon Islands Government press release last week, the implementing partners likely will be:
• Nathan Associates = Trade and Investment
• DAI = Agribusiness Support
• Winrock = Natural Resource Management
• Pacific American Fund = small scale infrastructure
• Green Powered Technology = infrastructure design and feasibility studies
Q. Is the funding a one-off support to Malaita, if not what other areas can we expect US support once the USD25 million runs out?
Morris: SCALE is a five-year, US$25 million program. Although there is an initial focus on Malaita Province, assistance to additional provinces will be considered at the work plan stage, in particular Central, Choiseul, Isabel, Makira-Ulawa, Rennell and Bellona, and Temotu. USAID will look to support additional future programming in the Solomon Islands through our regional projects.
Q. What percentage of the total funding will be spent on actual development activities as opposed to consultancy fees to the entities being engaged to administer the fund?
Morris: Until the actual work plan for the project is developed, it is not possible to provide a budget breakdown at this time.
Finally, it appears that the Malaita Development Forum is a private Facebook group. I am not a member of that group and therefore have no access to, nor can I post, content on the page. You can easily verify this by contacting the administrator.