Increasing informal settlements in Honiara

By Ezekiel Talatau

INFORMAL urban settlements are rapidly growing in Honiara and along the city’s periphery, and government is taking an inclusive approach by accepting several well established settlements.

Within Honiara boundary, settlers have occupied about 36 informal settlements, informal household of about 4,000 and the population of 28,000 or around 40 percent of the Honiara Population, according to a report from the ministry of lands (MLHS).

Most of the informal settlements residents do not have legal tenure, adding to urban inequalities.

Luke Kiddle, an independent researcher from UN-habitat stated that informal settlements in Solomon Island like elsewhere in the Pacific are poorly provided with services. Infrastructure is limited, water supply is patchy. Electricity is also patchy and the sanitation and toilet services are limited at best.

Responding to the growing pressure, the Solomon Islands government is expanding its deep-seated urban management challenges.

The ministry of lands, housing and survey (MLHS) are now committed to upgrading the informal settlements through subdivision planning. The plan is to allow most informal settlements to settle within the Honiara boundary. The government has now accepted the permanence of many informal settlements on base lands.

The informal settlements upgrading strategies supported by UN-habitat is taking first initiative, addressing the nexus between land, services and governance issues, although progress has been mired by unclear roles and responsibilities from the local level up and concerns about how interventions may affect (informal) land access and power relations.

Better opportunities for urban management are exist. Coordination between key agencies, including national government, Honiara City Council (HCC), the utilities and non-government organisations could be greatly strengthened. Financial shortfalls mean that development partners, both private and donors, will be needed for a timely and comprehensive settlement upgrade programme, although cultural fit and sensitivity will be key.

The urban management are exist yet they are weak in enforcement, lack of national lead agency for urban reform, corruption and wantok businis. Reported by UN-Habitat.

Improve and strengthen urban government, established a national leading agency to advance the urban agenda and strengthen the technical capacity of planning board at the local is something the government and the responsible authority need to addresses.

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