BY NED GAGAHE
Central Valley Community located along the Mataniko Riverbank witnessed another milestone on 29th November 2022.
A pilot project geared towards strengthening their community against flooding and landslides saw an open-air dissemination event hosted and attended by invited guests, donor agencies and implementing partners, government officials and the community.
The event on the 29th November 2022 kicked off early in the morning with a cultural welcome ceremony hosted by the community followed by the official programme – speeches, site tours and entertainment.
Various informative sessions were held where the participants had the opportunity to visit the nursery sites for the vetiver grass; guests were also briefed on how the community had planted vetiver grass along the river bank.
The community has benefited through a pilot project that strengthen them against natural disasters, food security, biodiversity and climate change.
The project was implemented in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), UN-Habitat, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University and Kastom Garden Association for more climate resilient communities.
The project activities were implemented as a pilot Nature- Based Solution (NBS) and urban biodiversity actions. In the context of informal settlements upgrading and climate resilience building at Koa Hill, with three priority projects namely; riverbank protection, landslide mitigation, public use of flood plain example, urban garden.
In his opening remarks, Professor Darryn McEvoy expressed gratitude to stakeholders for driving the project forward.
He used the opportunity to thank the community and local team Leader Yuyun Qomariyah, Kastom Garden Association, related stakeholders and the community for the successful implementation of the project.
Mr Eddie Samora, Central Valley Community chairman on behalf of the community described the project as a new chapter for them.
“In the 1960s there were only few people living in the community including my grandfather, Francis Samora.
“Time had passed and today the population had grown into well over 1,000 inhabitants with different cultures and backgrounds but we lived in this place as on happy family.
“We are being honored to be part of this significant project and witnessed the event today. We really appreciated the partners who have supported us on these very important undertaking that we are the beneficiaries for us now and into the future.
“I encouraged the community to take responsibility.”
Samora said that the community has been neglected by their leaders despite being located at the heart of Honiara.
The project team leader Ms Yuyun Qomariyah said they have planted around 650 metres of the Mataniko Riverbank with vetiver grass to protect against erosion on river banks and slopes.
They have also planted in three locations, one at the slope near the community’s water dam located uphill, to help stabilise the soil and prevented landslides.
She added that another two locations are Jacob’s ladder where they planted 400 pieces of vetiver grass because these locations are prone to landslides.
She said Kastom Garden Association under the project had trained the community on small scale backyard farming.
The Kastom Garden had run series of training on how the community can sustained them during times of disaster by growing their crops in their backyard.
Over the course of the project the community were trained and equipped with the important skill.
The project also assisted the community to construct two footpaths, a volleyball and futsal along the riverbank with the support of the community.
In concluding her remarks, Qomariyah had appealed to the community to look after the project and implement it for the betterment of the community.
“These are simple technology to protect people and houses from flooding and landslides.
“Using nothing but simple nature-based solutions.” Qomariyah said.
Private sponsored students who are undertaking their Diploma in the newly introduced Civil Engineering course at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) have put their theory in good use by assisting the Central Valley Community in the first ever Nature Based Solutions piloted project.
On April 3rd 2014, heavy rain had caused the Mataniko River to busts its banks, resulting in severe flash flooding and the destruction of homes and key infrastructures. Twenty-three people have been killed and almost 9,000 people are left homeless from the aftermath of the flood.
Three vulnerable communities are living along the Mataniko River, Koa Hill Valley, Vara Creek and Tuvaruhu, were severely hit and many people lost their homes.
Koa Hill Central Valley community has been severely hit by the flash floods.