Written by Ian Warren, Regional Manager for the Solomon Islands
For some reason I thought this trip to Western Province in the Solomon Islands would be more relaxing than the previous one. Our plan was to visit Vella Lavella—an island, though mountainous, not quite as steep as our usual destination Ranongga.
It wasn’t to be, though it was certainly worth the sore legs. We spend several days hiking in hills behind picture perfect tropical rural villages. We were looking for water sources. And we found some good ones. With very clear, cool water.
It was our first trip to Vella, and the project we’ve planned at Sambora is the first one on that island after ten years of working exclusively in Ranongga. A sort of beachhead for future expansion. This particular project includes new components and refurbishment of some old infrastructure built in 1984.
The visit revealed the problems we see everywhere with lack of maintenance. Whether through lack of money, skills, know-how, tools or inclination, almost every village water supply suffers from poor care. There are millions of dollars’ worth of water infrastructure in the Solomon’s alone just rusting away disused and redundant. It was certainly a reminder of the need to think beyond the project tap-turning Instagram moment.
The second part of the trip included a visit to our home-base at Buri village on Ranongga. The village has noticeably grown in the year since we last visited and the already busy school is now bursting at the seams. Our second project—planned for 2020—is for an upgraded (and exclusive) water supply for the school. It will include three new standpipes bring the total to four to serve the 300 students at the school.
The school itself has proposed the project and has committed to raising half of the project and contributing to the maintenance costs.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the trip was kicking off our first full-time employee. Our long-time friend and trusted partner Herrick Ragoso has been hired by the South Ranongga Community Association to fill the role of Program Manager for this year. Herrick’s extensive experience in politics will be a great asset to us as we move the program forward.