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Support for rural communities in Solomons

AA 04 093 Thursday 16 December 2004

Increased support for rural communities in Solomon Islands

I am pleased to announce Australia will contribute $32 million for a new five-year package of community-level assistance to Solomon Islands.

The ‘Community Support Program' (CSP) will build on the achievements of the current Community Peace and Restoration Fund (CPRF) to strengthen community level peace building and development.

CSP will focus on improving the livelihoods of people in rural areas. It will also promote women and youth in Solomon Islands, through work with civil society organisations. The new program will also implement a rural livelihoods strategy with initiatives to promote food security and access to income generation opportunities.

Following the violence of 2000 in Solomon Islands, Australia has provided a critical peace dividend for the entire population, but particularly in these isolated rural areas.

Some of the most conflict-affected communities have benefited from this assistance. For example, at Marasa on Guadalcanal's Weathercoast the community has come and worked together to rebuild the primary school that was destroyed in fighting in early 2003.

The work of talented and committed Solomon Islanders in provincial centres throughout the country has been key to its success. This national network and structure will be the foundation for new work under the CSP.

The CSP is a key part of the increased support Australia will provide from 2005 to address issues of food security and access to opportunities to generate incomes- issues critical to the 85 per cent of Solomon Islanders who live in rural communities.

The CSP will consolidate high impact achievements and, by moving to a longer-term program, Australia will be better placed to contribute to poverty reduction and peace building in rural areas of Solomon Islands.

This new funding over the period 2004-2009 will bring Australia's total contribution to community-level aid in post-conflict Solomon Islands to $53 million.

ENDS

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