WORLD BANK AND SIG SIGN EXTRA FINANCING TO RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The World Bank Group and the Solomon Islands Government, has on Tuesday signed a grant for additional funding of US$3 million for the Solomon Islands’ Rural Development Program (RDP).
The agreement was signed by the Minister for Finance, Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, and the World Bank Country Director for Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands, Ferid Belhaj. Additionally, the RDP has recently received another US$3 million from the World Bank Managed Food Price Crisis Response Core Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
The RDP, which is also funded by the Solomon Islands Government, AusAID, and the European Commission, is a six year project that began in 2007 with a total budget of US$30 million, including a grant from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) currently in the process of negotiation.
The RDP aims to raise the living standards of rural households by improving local infrastructure, increasing the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to improve support to rural agriculture, and supporting rural business development.
“We are very happy to receive these World Bank grants for the Rural Development Program,” Mr. Lilo said at the event.
“We are pleased with the program’s success in providing essential infrastructure to rural communities. This has included water rehabilitation and catchment systems, clinics, staff houses for nurses and teachers, classrooms, and safety bridges. Additionally, the agricultural components, which have led to consultations and activities involving around 1,500 farmers and training for officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, has been an important move towards improving the delivery of essential services to rural farmers” Mr. Lilo added
The project, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, initially began in the four provinces of Malaita, Temotu, Western, and Choiseul. This year the program has expanded to Makira and Isabel and increased coverage in Malaita and Western Province. The extra-funding will assist the project in its aim to reach all provinces by 2012.
“The World Bank is very pleased to be able to support Government’s efforts to provide infrastructure and agricultural services to the rural areas of Solomon Islands, recognizing that rural areas are home to the vast majority of Solomon Islanders and that agriculture continues to play a central role in livelihoods and the economy of the country,” said Ferid Belhaj.
“The RDP, through donors’ and government support, has resulted in nearly 50,000 people seeing benefits from the first cycle of projects alone. The first component, which has led to 43 infrastructure projects being completed, with 54 more underway, has been using a community driven development approach that ensures rural communities in Solomon Islands can choose the infrastructure projects they see as essential in their local areas” Mr. Lilo said.
“Communities also play vital roles in managing the funds for the infrastructure projects, assisting construction of projects, and overseeing the progress of the projects through local implementation committees. As such, the RDP is a very good example of how effective and sustainable community driven development can be. We hope that the RDP can continue to experience the success it has seen up till now and this additional funding is a critical step in that direction,” added Mr. Lilo.