BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
A PROJECT called Melanesia Rural Market & Innovation-Driven Development Programme (MERMAID) that aims to reduce rural poverty, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, and empower women and youth has been launched yesterday in Honiara.
IFAD awarded the project grant to fund this program to World Vison Solomon Islands.
This is to empower communities on nutrition, which is a very important part of our lives.
World Vison Solomon Islands National Manager Jimmy Nadapdap said the project team under his office had already signed understanding with the 10 communities to work with.
“I have confidence for a successful project,” Nadapdap said.
“Our work is basically to ensure communities are resilient and be able to self-reliant through the knowledge they gained from the project,” he added.
Nadapdap said nowadays rural communities have struggled with under-nutrition, over-nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
He pointed out that according to World Health Organization Survey conducted in Pacific Island nations, less than 20percent of people surveyed reported eating the five recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
The World Vision manager said the survey recorded that the prevalence of under-five stunting and under-nutrition is unacceptably high at an average of 30percent (29 percent in Vanuatu, 33percent in the Solomon Islands), while at the same time, more than 70percent of adult women are overweight.
“A drop in the diversity of available fruit and vegetables, coupled with increasing reliance on cheap food imports, have contributed to the substitution of nutrient-rich local fruits and vegetables with foods high in saturated fats, sugar, and salt, leading to increased rates of diet-related NCDs,” Nadapdap said.
Deputy Premier for Malaita Province, Lenty Nelson, said 10 communities in his province will benefit from the project.
“Today, World Vison has decided to launched the MERMAID program to establish scalable pathways for increased consumption of local and nutritious foods and improved rural income in Malaita,” Nelson said.
“I am pleased that our international partners support us in our struggle to eradicate the inequality that exist within our communities,” he added.
The goal of the project is: Reduce rural poverty, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, and empower women and youth (SDGs 1, 2 and 5), with an objective to: Establish scalable pathways for increased consumption of local and nutritious foods, and improved rural incomes.
The project also has three key components:
Component one (1): Demonstrating Responsive Service Delivery for Rural Communities
Component two (2): Innovations for investing in women and youth
Component three (3): Knowledge sharing, policy and advocacy
The project is an IFAD funded project for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
In Solomon Islands the project is implemented in 10 communities in Malaita Province, and is expected to benefit approximately 49,233 people.