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    SORE BOOTED

    Honiara City Council Clerk Rence Sore. Photo: Charles Kadamana

    HCC terminates controversial Clerk’s contract

    BY ALFRED PAGEPITU

    THE Honiara City Council (HCC) Executive Committee has terminated the contract of Rence Sore as City Clerk.

    Deputy Mayor Francis Idu told Island Sun yesterday the decision was reached on Tuesday, with Mr Sore receiving the termination letter yesterday.

    Sore is being investigated over allegations of corruption. However, Idu said HCC executive were in one-mind to get rid of him.

    Sore did not return phone calls made to him last night for comment.

    Deputy Mayor Idu said the executive is doing what former Mayor, Wilson Mamae hesitated to do.

    “Seven Councillors have decided to terminated Sore after the Councillors Committee members meeting on Tuesday 6th April 2021 held at the HCC Chamber decide to terminate Sore’s contract as the Clerk.”

    Idu said the decision is based on the grounds that there is sufficient evidence to terminate the City Clerk; one of the main reasons is illegal sale of Council land PN. 192010-33.

    “HCC Legal team stressed that any decision to terminate the City Clerk must come with good grounds to avoid any repercussion.”

    Idu said despite this the executive committee favoured terminating the City Clerk with immediate effect.

    “There were two options that were considered, and that is either to suspend the City Clerk and allow for investigations to be carried out or to immediately terminate the Clerk.

    “We the executive committee’s decision now is to terminate the appointment of the City Clerk immediately.

    “During the discussion on the motion put forward to terminate the Clerk, Cr Eddie Siapu stated that it would be in the best interest of the Council and the public to terminate the City Clerk.

    “Most of the councillors who joined the meeting shared the same sentiment that termination of the City Clerk needs to be done immediately to clear way forward for the council.

    “The executive committee resolves to terminate the appointment of the City Clerk with the immediate effect based on reasons stated on April 6, 2021 meeting.”

    Idu said the executive committee resolved to revoke and remove the City Clerk’s signature from the Council’s Bank Account, and resolution was passed by majority.

    Meanwhile, Idu said they have appointed the current Deputy City Clerk to be the acting City Clerk until such time a new Clerk is appointed by the full Council.

    Present at the meeting were Councillors Francis Idu, Dorah Huapii, Robert Oge, Mostyn Saferio, Clement Terewauri, Luciano Sade and Eddie Siapu.

    Ex-officio present were Paul Inifiri, William Floyd and Vincent Kohata.

    Malaita PS challenges Public Service over ‘unlawful’ suspension

    By EDDIE OSIFELO

    MALAITA Provincial Secretary Fredrick Fa’abasua is challenging his suspension.

    The province said Fa’asubua will initiate legal proceeding unless the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Public Service, Nego Sisiolo “withdraws the unlawful suspension on him”.

    Premier Daniel Suidani confirmed this in a statement yesterday after PS Sisiolo issued the suspension letter to Fa’abasua last Friday.

    Suidani said Sisiolo accused Fa’abasua of financial allegations that were “untrue, and in the same letter, he ordered the suspension of our PS, effective immediately”.

    “Unfortunately, in doing so, Sisiolo did not follow the process set out in the Public Service Act and its Regulations,” Suidani said.

    “The Public Service Act and its regulations have a specific legal process set out, by which such accusations can be taken up and acted upon,” he added.

    Suidani said this legal process provides the opportunity for natural justice, and this process was not, repeat was not, followed by Sisiolo.

    He said the Public Service Act sets out a process by which any officer alleging misconduct and having supervisory responsibility over the PS must have a report about this accusation filed to the PS of Public Service. 

    The PS of Public Service in turn must give a minimum period of seven days to the officer to respond.

    “None of these steps have happened or if it had happened the PS has not been aware of it, and therefore our PS has decided to put these issues before the Permanent Secretary of Public Service for him to do the right thing by following the clear process that is set down.

    “Soon these matters will be at court but for now I will say the following:

    1. PS Fa’abasua has been an exemplary public officer and a real servant to Malaita people.
    2. His hard work and integrity has led to the repayment of millions of dollars of outstanding debt left by previous provincial executives.
    3. His dedication and faithfulness have seen the charging of fair business licenses on the logging companies ripping our people’s land.
    4. His careful diligence has given pride and hope to the people of Malaita Province.”

    Suidani said it is sad after all this work, two different ministries have tried to remove PS Fa’abasua from serving the people of Malaita Province.

    Last year in December the Ministry of Provincial Government demanded the removal of PS Fa’abasua back to Honiara.

    Suidani said no reason was given in this demand and the PS kept serving the people of Malaita.

    He alleged this current action by Sisiolo from Ministry of Public Service is similarly motivated. 

    “He (Sisiolo) is trying to remove PS from Malaita Province, this time by trying to suspend him without any proper evidence put against the PS and without even complying with his own regulations.

    “I am not sure of the real reason for these constant attacks on PS Fa’abasua, but the timing of this action by Sisiolo will have some severe effects on the people and province of Malaita,” he said.

    Suidani said his Executive is scheduled to meet today Tuesday, March 16, to pass the budget for Malaita Province.

    “If Sisiolo’s action succeeds, then our PS will be suspended when he should be helping the Executive pass this budget. Malaita Province will then have no budget to spend this year and this will have serious impact on the people of Malaita.

    “In light of this seriousness, I appeal to Sisiolo for the withdrawal of the order to immediately suspend PS Fa’abasua. If he has genuine concerns for upholding the rule of law, I invite him to proceed as set out in the Public Service Act,” he said.

    Suidani said the PS of Public Service without any good reason is attempting to discipline the PS of Malaita Province, yet he is allowing a person who has been found to be a foreigner by the High Court of Solomon Islands to continue holding senior sensitive political jobs in the Prime Minister’s Office.

    “That person too has contravened the Electoral Acts of this country yet the leaders of this country including the PS of Public Service are turning a blind eye on that situation. 

    “The PS of Public Service needs to explain that to the people of Malaita.  Why is he tolerating wilful and reckless behaviour by a foreigner and harassing a national without due process?” he asked.

    However, PS Sisiolo said the suspension decision is due to serious allegations around unaccountable sum of government revenue in which the PS is alleged to have directly involved in.

    “As part of protecting the credibility of the service and upholding better governance, my office deemed it is prudent to suspend the officer from duty to allow investigation into the allegations.

    “As usual, the PS will be accorded natural justice process as we pursue the disciplinary process,” he said.

    PS Sisiolo said the incumbent of the office of the provincial secretary is an extremely important public office because it administers service delivery that affects the affairs of the rural people.

    “Therefore any decision that will affect the said office expected HR capacity is accorded thorough thinking,” he said.

    A statement from the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) yesterday stated that the Provincial Secretary for Malaita Province is suspended based on allegations raised by former disgruntled Malaita workers.

    “Based on documents submitted, the Ministry of Public Service (MPS) perused those matters reported by former employees. Based on the allegations, the MPS carried out a preliminary investigation and decided to suspend the Public Officer to give way for a full investigation.

    “These cases were brought forward by concerned and aggrieved citizens and not in any way reflect any attempts by the MPGIS or the Solomon Islands Government to tarnish either the PS or the Malaita Provincial Government,” the statement said.

    DON’T BUY THEM!

    Gov’t urged to abort plans to buy Mamara town houses

    GOVERNMENT has been urged to reconsider its intention to purchase houses from the Mamara Tasivarongo – Mavo township project for its public servants housing scheme.

    Opposition leader Mathew Wale made the call yesterday.

    This was in light of a recent Cabinet decision affirming the government’s intention to secure houses in the township developed by a Chinese investor.

    “It is regrettable that the Mamara Tasivarongo – Mavo Development Agreement Act excludes full application of existing laws providing for planning and infrastructure development,” Wale said in a statement. 

    “The geographical location, climate change and material to be used are all matters that should be considered carefully,” he added.

    “The absence of MID’s direct regulatory control and oversight raises serious questions on the standards and specifications applied by the developer to guarantee suitability of the designs and materials in our local context. 

    “With the ongoing negative and severe impacts of changing weather patterns, these requirements are important to ensure safety for human habitation purposes.”

    Wale said considering the scale of the project, it is even more regrettable that law prevented public and landowner opinion on the layout of the site and the suitability of the designs in the local context.  

    “From what can be seen the houses already look too frail on the face of our gale force winds in full flight. 

    “Anyone looking at them will certainly wonder whether the buildings can withstand such forces.

    “The government must understand that the safety of public servants and interested investors must come first.

    “I therefore urge the government to give these concerns serious thought.  Due diligence checks must be carried out if tax payers’ money is going to be used to purpose the houses.   

    “This is a Chinese tune that can go seriously wrong for our public servants and interested investors and so the government must exercise restraint and best judgment,” the Opposition Leader added.

    Wale also warned that by entering into any deal, opens the risk for manipulative increases in costs that could create a mismatch in actual value and pricing status of these houses.

    The Opposition Leader however suggested that if the government so chooses to go ahead with the approved plan, then it should allow for the market forces to be at play, which could help to put pressure for lower costs.

    Mother’s Day comes early for Island Sun mothers

    HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY Staff of Island Sun newspaper cutting a cake as they celebrate the Mother’s Day at their officer yesterday. Mother’s Day is a holiday honouring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. With the same honor the management of Island Sun hosted a reception for its staff.

    BY ALFRED PAGEPITU

    STAFF of the Island Sun paid tribute to mothers working at the newspaper with a Mother’s Day cake and light lunch yesterday.

    Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the roles of mothers in a family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

    It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the month of May every year.

    While Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, the staff of the company decided to hold an early celebration as most of them would be away to celebrate with their own families tomorrow.

    Human resource officer Jamal Tabepuda said Sunday is the day, a special day set aside to pay respect to all mothers.

    “But for us, we did not bring much to our female staff, only to say happy Mother’s Day, which has placed a smile on their faces as they mark their special day.

    “I would like to thank the management and staff of the Island Sun for hosting this special event for our female staff in our office and for preparing the foods,” Tabepuda said.

    He also thanked all the staff and wished all the mothers a happy Mother’s Day celebration.

    Audrey Awao, a senior Sales staff said Mother’s Day is more about expressing our gratitude than material gifts.

    “If we look deep into the concept of Mother’s Day, we will realize like many others that each and every day ought to be Mother’s Day.”

    “They are relentlessly performing their duty towards ensuring and working towards the well-being of their children day-in and day-out, without failure and without break,” she added.

    ” So we as children need to be more sensitive and grateful for this fact and thank them every moment of our lives, for the sacrifice that they have been performing for us,” said Mrs Awao.

    Meanwhile, according to the Church calendar, Churches around the country will be celebrating the occasion tomorrow.

    New police recruits learn English grammar

    Dr Alpheaus Zobule and students

    By Jeremiah Lloyd Dauara

    ONE of the primary responsibilities of a police officer is to do formal investigations into criminal and civil cases and write formal statements or reports.

    This responsibility, of course, requires a good knowledge and understanding of the English Language.

    These are the sentiments expressed by Inspector Clive Talo, the officer in charge of Recruit, Training and Probationary Constable Programme at the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).

    “As the officer in charge of the recruit and training programme, I noticed that most of the new recruits did well in other training programmes except the English language, especially essay writing and dictation.

    “This prompted me to consult my Advisor for approval to include English Grammar Course into the Police Academy training,” Inspector Talo said.

    “When my superiors asked me to recommend an institution, I recommended Islands Bible Ministries (IBM) English Grammar Courses without any hesitation because I was a graduate at IBM and have seen the high level of grammar training offered there,” Talo added.

    According to Dr Alpheaus Zobule, Director of Islands Bible Ministries, the request from Inspector Talo and RSIPF to engage IBM to teach English Grammar at the RSIPF Police Academy was gracefully considered.

    “One of our core visions is to teach professional Solomon Islanders proper English Grammar,” said Dr. Zobule.

    “To teach the newly recruited Police Officers is truly an honour,” he affirmed. There are seventy students and the students have been divided into two classes. The classes are organized on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm.

    According to Miriam Zeke, another IBM teaching staff, the students have successfully completed their first course and are now doing their second course.

    Dr. Zobule stated that he was really impressed with the officers’ eagerness and commitment to learn English Grammar.

    He added that the students worked so hard to ensure that they attend classes, actively participate in class discussions and complete their given assignments.

    “I can confidently say that these police officers are well trained, well organized and well-disciplined in their training,” Dr Zobule said.

    According to Francis Wickham, a male student officer, the English Grammar Course is very helpful. “This Grammar Course has helped us to understand English well. More so, it helps to prepare us for our police duties especially in writing reports, statements and other official work documents,” said Officer Wickham.

    “Furthermore, I noticed that most of my colleagues have started speaking English at the barracks, something that you would hardly hear from typical Solomon Islanders,” added Wickham. “This is obviously the impact of this English Grammar Course,” he concluded.

    For Albrina Suala Manier, a female student, this training is an eye opener. “This training helps me to improve my English Grammar and writing skills. Although some of the concepts are challenging, I see the benefits for my career as a police officer and keep striving to learn them,” said officer Manier. Both Wickham and Manier expressed joy in learning English Grammar and they credit their lecturers Dr. Alpheaus G. Zobule, Mrs Miriam Zeke and Mr Solomon Wara for the professional work in transferring the knowledge to all the newly recruited police officers.

    We remain COVID-19 free: PM

    Solomon Islands is Covid free again

    THERE are no new COVID-19 cases in the country.

    Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his nation-wide address this week said the country maintained its ‘COVID-free status’.

    “Since my last update, there are no additional cases detected. Our official figure remains at 20 cases,” he said.

    Prime Minister Sogavare said the 20th COVID-19 case has now returned two consecutive negative tests and had been transferred to a step-down facility pending his next test.

    The Prime Minister said if he returns a third negative test next week, a decision will then be made on his release from quarantine.

    “Our 19th COVID-19 case had been released from quarantine last week following the 3-consecutive negative tests,” he said.

    However, the Prime Minister said the 19th case will be followed up by the health team over the next 90 days.

    “Our protocol requires us to follow-up all former positive cases in the 90-day period following their release from quarantine,” he said.

    The Prime Minister also thanked both the 19th and 20th case for their cooperation and patience.

    PMO

    CSII signs new partnership

    CSSI Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi (CSSI) and IBM Executive Director Dr Alpheaus G. Zobule showing the signed MOU

    CORRECTIONAL Service of Solomon Islands and Islands Bible Ministries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

    The milestone event occurred a week ago at the CSSI Conference Room at Rove when CSSI Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi (CSSI) and IBM Executive Director Dr Alpheaus G. Zobule put ink to paper.

    The two-year partnership will see officers of the Correctional Service of Solomon Islands (CSSI) undergo training in English Grammar.

    Islands Bible Ministries (IBM), through its training arm Islands Christian College, will deliver the programme to the officers of the Correctional Service.

    The first class of 30 officers will begin their training on May 3rd, and other classes may be organized during the period of the partnership.

    Commissioner Manelusi highlighted his organization policy to continue to upskill Service officers so that they could perform at a higher level of professionalism.

    He expressed much appreciation for the opportunity that his officers have to improve their English communication skills.

    In response, the Executive Director Dr Alpheaus G. Zobule acknowledged the great importance of the work of CSSI in the country and considered it a great honor to be in partnership with CSSI in building a better Solomon Islands.

    Aust patrol boat to help in COVID-19 response

    HMAS Larrakia anchored in Leyte Gulf, Philippines.

    ROYAL Australian Navy vessel HMAS Larrakia will arrive in Solomon Islands this week to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force’s (RSIPF) COVID-19 response.  

    Larrakia will conduct maritime surveillance activities in the western border region at the request of the Solomon Islands Government.

    Commanding Officer of HMAS Larrakia, Lieutenant Commander Dan Lindquist, said the deployment is another example of Australia and Solomon Islands’ strong and enduring security partnership. 

    “This deployment follows HMAS Maitland’s visit in March which focussed on maritime security in the western provinces,” Lindquist said.

    “This includes working to detect, deter and report potential illegal fishing activity with regional partners,” he added.

    “HMAS Larrakia will continue the efforts to strengthen our relationship with the Solomon Island Government by providing surveillance support to ensure stability and prosperity in the region.”

    The visit will be contactless to ensure the health and safety of the Solomon Islands’ community.

    No Australian Defence Force personnel will disembark.

    Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan, said Defence has worked closely with Solomon Islands throughout the pandemic to boost the RSIPF’s COVID-19 response and preparedness at the western border.

    “In February, Australia delivered two new special purpose aluminium fast boats, providing a more flexible maritime response capability in remote areas,” Dr Strahan said.

    “We are pleased to continue supporting the efforts of the Solomon Islands Government to keep the community safe and free from COVID-19.”

    Larrakia’s visit comes as Solomon Islands receives its second Guardian-class Patrol Boat, RSIPV Taro, at a handover ceremony in Australia yesterday.

    RSIPV Taro will offer greater range, speed, crew size and operational capability than its Pacific Patrol Boat predecessor, RSIPV Auki.

    Through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia is delivering 21 Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste to support regional security and maintain a secure, free and open Pacific.

    Larrakia will depart Solomon Islands on 25 May.

    Police arrests man for assault

    POLICE have arrested a man in his 20s for alleged assault causing grievous harm to his uncle at Vavanga village, Kolombangara Island in the Western Province on Monday.

    It was alleged that the nephew seriously wounded his uncle with a pocketknife, where he stabbed the victim once at his backside and pulled out the knife and stabbed the victim again on his right hand while the victim was busy cutting his wooden canoe at a coconut plantation in their home village.

    Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Western Province Chief Superintendent Mathias Lenialu said the suspect was formally arrested by officers at Gizo Police Station and placed in police custody after the matter was reported to police.

     “The suspect has been charged with one count of Act of Intend to cause grievous harm contrary to section 224 (1) (a) of the Penal Code and is currently on remand at the Gizo Correctional Centre to appear in the Gizo Magistrates’ Court on a late date,” PPC Lenialu said

    “I appeal to members of the communities in and around Vavanga village who may have any information about the incident to come forward and assist the police investigators,” Chief Superintendent Lenialu added.

    He stressed that the RSIPF condemns the alleged incident in the strongest term and appeal to members of communities in Western Province to cooperate and work together with the police and report such incidents in a timely manner as the law will not tolerate such inhumane treatment of our old people.

    —RSIPF

    Villagers end training on Forest Management

    Participants and Facilitators group picture taken at Panarui, Choiseul Province. Picture taken by Ravin Dhari, CEPF Coordinator

    MORE than 80 men and women of the Southern Mount Maetabe catchment area (Babatana rainforest catchment area) in Choiseul Province have successfully attended the Protected Areas management and enforcement training last week.

    The participants involved included members of the Protected Areas (PA) Management Committees, Rangers and nominated Inspectors of the Sirebe Forest Conservation Area, Siporae Tribal Forest Conservation Area, Padezaka Tribe, Vuri Clan Forest Conservation Area and Garasa Tribal Conservation Area.

    Both Sirebe and Siporae Tribal Forest Conservation Areas are legally declared protected areas under the Protected Areas Act 2010 (since 2019), protecting a total of 1400 hectares of their forest.

     The other three tribes are still working towards declaring portions of their forested land under the PA Law.

    The two days training was held at the Malangono Station Conference hall on Tuesday 27th and 28th April 2021.

    The training was organized by the Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF) and the Integrated Forest Management Project (IFMP) as part of the ongoing Protected Areas establishment efforts in the southern Mt Maetabe catchment area (Babatana rainforest conservation catchment area).

    The main objectives of the training workshop were to support the participants to understand the enforcement laws and regulations under the PA Act including other related environmental laws, roles/responsibilities outlined in their Management Plans; ensure participants be equipped with skills and knowledge to monitor, report and enforce protected areas breaches or offences to enforcement authorities.

     Lastly participants should be provided a learning platform for exchange of ideas, views and lessons on managing protected areas, an opportunity to get feedback on rangers and Management Committees for these protected areas on challenges and successes of these sites.

     The facilitators at the workshop were staff from the Environment and Conservation Division (ECD), Office of Director of the Public Prosecution (ODPP), Solomon Islands Environmental law Association (SIELA), Solomon Islands Rangers Association (SIRA) and Choiseul Provincial representatives (Forestry and Police).

     Other important stakeholders who also attended were representative from the Choiseul Provincial Government (CPG), Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Live and Learn (L&L) and Ecological Solutions Foundation (ESF).

    Speaking at the closure of the training, the participants were enthusiastic about the training since it is the first of its kind ever organised for them.

     They looking forward for more similar trainings ahead.

    The Organisers wish to convey their sincere gratitude to the Aid Donors (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Bread for the World and Food and Agriculture Organisation) partners, stakeholders for assistance and lastly the resource owners for recognising the importance of forest conservation.

    MAL sets up new body

    The Integrated Land Management (ILM) committee members during their inaugural meeting on 29th April. Other member reps were not able to make it to the first meeting due to other official commitment.

    THE Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock through the Integrated Forest Management Project (IFMP) of which the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is the implementing agency has successfully established its Integrated Land Management Committee (ILMC).

    The committee’s core responsibility is to provide general oversight of project execution related to sustainable land management and improved decision making in production landscapes.

    The project goal is to strengthen and complement ongoing efforts by the Government of the Solomon Islands and its partners in order to promote new approaches to sustainable forest management that is socially viable, economically feasible, and environmentally sound.

    Technical Advisor, FAO Raushan Kumar said the project has the aim of implementing integrated management of protected and productive forest landscapes for sustainable community development and multiple environmental benefits.

    “One of the objectives of this project is mainly concerned with Integrated Land Management, and thus the committee was established as part of fulfilment of this objective and where the role would be to provide support as well as carry out monitoring of activities within this focal area,” Mr. Raushan said.

    The committee held its inaugural meeting on 29th April at the SIBC conference room in Honiara and was chaired by MAL Permanent Secretary Supervising, Michael Ho’ota, Technical Advisor, FAO  Raushan Kumar, and Assistant FAO Country Representative Jimi Saelea, who spoke about the projects and programmes implemented by FAO of the United Nations.

    Douglas Yee, National Programme Coordinator of the IFMP facilitated the meeting. The meeting was attended by wide range of stakeholders involved in sustainable land use and its management.

    Assistant FAO country representative, Jimi Saelea said Integrated Land Management is the second component of the Integrated Forest Management Project currently implemented in Solomon Islands and is funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by FAO under the country’s program framework (CPF-2018-2022).

    “This component practically deals with agriculture and forestry. The establishment of this committee is a requirement under the IFM project. The committee will eventually function within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) as a technical working group under the Agriculture Oversight Committee of the Agriculture Sector Growth and Investment Plan (ASGIP) 2021-2030 which I understand will be launched later this year,” Mr Saelea explained.

    He added that unsustainable use of land for agriculture and to some extent forestry has been blamed for land degradation and soil infertility and he said these are issues that needs serious attention now to avoid future disasters.

    “To address these issues both government and non-government actors must collaborate.”

    While acknowledging MAL Permanent Secretary, Ethel Frances and Permanent Secretary Supervising/Deputy Secretary Technical (DST) Michael Ho’ota for the formation of the committee (ILMC) Mr Saelea said the establishment of the committee is critical to ensure stakeholders are kept informed and the projects implementation are guided and kept on track.

    Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary Supervising of MAL, Michael Ho’ota said Agriculture is an important sector for the Solomon Islands’ national economy as it sustains 85 per cent of the rural population with food crops, cash crops, and livestock for their daily livelihoods, food, and social security.

    “Agriculture holdings account for 40 per cent of the landmass of the country. About 35 per cent of GDP is generated by subsistence agriculture, and nationwide, 92 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture in some way.

    “We are currently experiencing regularly occurring variabilities in climate change impacts and effects such as heavy rainfalls, hot and dry spells, extremely high and low temperatures, coastal sea level rise, coastal salinity and infiltration, these effects threaten food security and agriculture, infrastructure, and other resources that provide for the wellbeing of men, women, and children of Solomon Islands.

    “The manner in which we use Land must now be seriously addressed in light of the increasing environment and land resources exploitation.

    “The fast increasing population demands more food and incomes that in turn put more pressure on the land and other resources.

    “In the rush to satisfy these needs most people are unaware that they are contributing to negative results like soil degradation, low soil fertility, low crops productivity, and the current increasing health issues such as malnutrition and lack of economic wellbeing resulting in poverty,” Mr. Ho’ota emphasized.

    He further stressed that these activities result in more problems like uncontrolled subsistence practices, water catchment deforestation and reduction, nutrients leaching and depletion, use of agro-chemicals detrimental to the environment, clear felling of forest lands, open mining activities, just to mention some of the leading adverse activities that come about with no consideration to proper land use planning.

    “With all the issues said and the demand from both the national government and our rural populace I am pleased to note that under the Component 2: Integrated Land Management: reviews and revision of outdated and ineffective policy, regulatory and legal frameworks governing land use in the country will be done.

    “Further more thorough assessment of impacts of current land-use practices on biodiversity, land degradation and ecosystem services will also be conducted and this will feed into the review and revision; providing the policy makers with reliable information to base their policies and strategies on and most importantly the establishment of a multi-sectoral coordination mechanism to ensure the sectoral frameworks are streamlined and complementary rather than contradictory,” Mr. Ho’ota highlighted.

    He thanked the newly appointed committee (ILMC) members for accepting their appointments and he reiterated that the Integrated Land Management Committee (ILMC) will be the main advisory body for the implementation of integrated land management component 2 of the IFM Project.

    ILMC members are representations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Forestry and Research, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey and the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) through the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Kastom Garden Association (KGA) and Live & Learn agency.

    –MAL

    Championing the voices of young people in Honiara

    LYNTON A. FILIA

    HONIARA City Council Youth Worker Mary Tuhaika has been championing the Honiara urban youths on a mission to empower young people on active participation, leadership, and empowerment programs.

    Working in the youth space for 15 years, Mary has been instrumental to many young people’s lives within Honiara city.

    She led young people to engage in positive activities such as the Youth Volunteer Scheme, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Youth Events, Youth Group Grants, Specific Youth Projects, and general engagement in Programs implemented by the Honiara City Council.

    At the same time, the establishment of the Social, Emotional, and Wellbeing Project “TOK SPOT” launched recently, is described as a milestone achievement that will impact young people now and in the future.

    The TOK SPOT initiative is funded by the New Zealand Government and implemented by Honiara City Council in partnership with ChilFund New Zealand, it will be accommodating the youth populace within Honiara City. It is a first-ever youth counselling space and programs specifically for young people.

    “I am thrilled such initiative was launched. It will revolutionize young people within Honiara City particularly to tackle youth issues related to their social relations, managing emotions and feelings and their general wellbeing,” MrsTuhaika said.

    The project looks to achieve an estimate of 17,000 youth living in Honiara to access the social and emotional services to build better, safer futures and action positive change to young people.

    An additional 1500 children and youth will also indirectly benefit from improved knowledge and skills of frontline workers in the acute and complex area of child protection services.

    Preparing and upskilling young people towards this youth counselling space, 16 young people graduated with Certificate IV in Youth Work with the Australia Pacific Training Coalition last year, 3 graduated with Diploma in Counselling from the University of the South Pacific, and 1 graduated with a Level 4 NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (mental health & addiction) in Ara Institute of Canterbury, New Zealand.

    Mary confirmed these professional youth workers and counsellors are fully equipped with knowledge and skills in their respective fields. She believes they are perfectly ready to deliver to young people who will be accessing the services.

    In the Solomon Islands, young people make up 70 percent of the population. Many young people left school at the secondary level, end up engaging in anti – social issues.

    With this gap, it inspires Mary to work with this population to engage as much young people in youth empowerment activities.

    Growing up as a youth, Mary said she always wants to work with young people, listen to their stories, and be part of their growth journey.

    “I grew up to learn that youth’s voices are always not heard, their contributions are not seen and limited services to deal with their social issues. Observing these gaps it has always inspired me to connect and work with young people,” Mary said.

    In 2018, the TOK SPOT concept was born after a wider consultation conducted by ChildFund NZ and Honiara City Council’s Youth, Sports, and Women’s Division. A research carried out by other NGOs, identified that adolescent mental health is one area unrecognized and underfunded. 

    With the gaps, Mary said HCC and ChildFund NZ agreed to form a partnership to support and develop opportunities for youth to promote and address social and emotional wellbeing issues.

    Through discussions and consultations with more Honiara Youth Groups, HCC and ChildFund NZ received many feedbacks that young people wanted the project to develop a counselling service specifically for the young.

    Today, Mary is proud the youth counselling space has finally been launched. It is a result of hard work, passion, and commitment to work with young people in Honiara.

    Mary’s biggest future goal is giving back to her own family.

    She said, “On a personal level, years I spent working with young people in Honiara, I saw their personal growth and proud of   their professional achievements.

    It is time I give back to my children, groom them into knowing their potentials and be good citizens of Honiara.”

     “My dream for young people in Honiara now, is having HCC take a direction to establish satellite youth hubs for every ward within Honiara City, so to have HCC provide youth services ward by ward.

    We are grateful that, one of HCC’s long-term goal has now been fulfilled by New Zealand Government’s support to construct a ‘Youth Space’ for the youth population in the city, even more grateful  for their support through ChildFund NZ will continue for 4 more years.

    “My ask to partners and donors wishing to work with young people in Honiara, the only option more sustainable is through working with Honiara City Council and its existing youth networks.

    “HCC will always be here, when the next Government and administation comes, the mandate will still remain, only people will change over time, but the system, process, and approaches will be there.

    “They will make changes and amendments to what is fitting to the present generation’s context,” she said.

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