THE Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP) is the largest project that the World Bank supports in Solomon Islands.
With new funding support from the Australian Government announced Tuesday, the project investment will exceed US$37 million.
The Program is implemented by the national government through the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).
Partners in the RDP include the Solomon Islands Government, Australia aid, European Union, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Bank, and communities from eight of the country’s provinces, except Renbel.
RDP became effective in 2007 and was first rolled out to Temotu, Western, Choiseul and Malaita provinces.
In 2011, the Program extended its reach to the provinces of Isabel, Guadalcanal, Central Islands, and Makira Ulawa.
Each ward in all of the eight provinces is allocated a sub-project. Some infrastructure sub-projects benefit communities that span over several villages.
The RDP targets three areas of development or components.
In Component 1, communities are given funds to build small scale infrastructure like classroom buildings and teacher housing for both primary and community high schools, clinics, nurse aid posts and accommodation, foot bridges, community halls, women resource centers, water supply and water catchment infrastructure.
Members of Parliament, Members of the Provincial Assembly, and the Provincial Governments also provided co-financing to the RDP.
Component 2 supports focuses on strengthening the capacity and reach of the extension functions of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Component 3 strengthen the growth of rural businesses through the provision of supplemental equity.
The RDP uses a Community-driven Development (CDD) model where communities are given the opportunity to consult, select and manage their sub-projects.
This also ensures community prioritization of needs, co-financing and execution of the investment. Project selection is based on an inclusive and transparent process at the ward and provincial levels.
The process of identifying and selection of beneficiary communities starts with a visit from a Community helper (CH) to create awareness about the RDP and how communities can work together to identify priority needs.
Communities then gather to vote for their most important project.
The sub-project that gets the most votes will go through to the next round where it is selected from a list of priority sub-projects from other communities in a ward.
A Ward Development Committee (WDC) which comprises members of the Provincial Assembly meets at the provincial headquarters to screen the community proposals and allocate the successful proposals.
A Provincial Allocation Review Committee (PARC), which has a 50 percent female participation, plus members of the provincial assembly meets to review the allocation of sub-projects to communities by the WDC to make sure that successful projects reflect the priority areas of development for the community.
The sub-projects are managed at the community level by a sub-implementation committee (SIC) which is elected by members of the community.
To date, across the provinces of Western, Choiseul, Malaita, Temotu, Isabel, Makira-Ulawa, Central Islands, and Guadalcanal:
- Completed community projects are already benefitting 70,000 people—more than 1 in 10 Solomon Islanders—improved access to critical services such as water supply, health centers, and school buildings.
- More than 31,000 farmers, in all 9 provinces, have received extension advice or training, in growing subsistence and commercial crops.
- Supplemental equity provided by RDP leveraged SBD$6 from commercial banks for every SBD$1 invested by the project. A total of 58 businesses operating in rural areas benefitted from increased access to finance.
After four cycles of funding to the nine provinces, the program is expanding to new communities and build on existing investments, to meet its goal of reaching 300,000 people, more than half the total population, by its completion in early 2015.
It has so far received financing support totaling US$31.59 million from Australia aid, the European Commission, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, and the World Bank.
With additional financing from Australia, World Bank, and Solomon Islands Government, total project investment will exceed US$37 million, more than half of the World Bank’s current portfolio in the Solomon Islands.
In 2013, the Solomon Islands Government contributed counterpart financing to the program for the first time, totaling SBD$30 million (approx. USD$4 million).