World Bank boost for Infrastructure, Agribusiness in Solomons


<p style="text-align: justify;">The Solomon Islands Rural Development Programme (RDP) received an additional US$3 million grant last week from the World Bank. <!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This will provide increased financial aid to community-led projects for priority infrastructure and agriculture services in rural areas, including in the remote Outer Islands.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Rural development is key in the country of nearly 1,000 islands, 300 of them being inhabited, scattered over more than 1.35 million square kilometers of ocean. The vast majority of the population lives in rural areas, which can be several days' travel by boat to the nearest urban centre where many services are located.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Since 2007, the RDP has been working with communities to develop key infrastructure projects such as health posts, classrooms, teachers' accommodation, and water supply. It is also providing training and advice in agriculture, and increasing access to finance for rural businesses so they can expand and develop.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Completed community projects are benefiting some 65,000 people with improved access to water supply, health centres, and schools. More than 29,000 farmers in all 8 provinces have received extension advice or training, in growing subsistence and commercial crops.
Some 58 rural businesses also benefited from increased access to finance.

<p style="text-align: justify;">The additional financing made available last week will enable the programme to continue to expand to new communities and build on existing investments to meet its goal of reaching 300,000 people by its completion in early 2015.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The RDP follows a community-driven development approach that relies on community consultation and management. The Ministry for Development Planning and Aid Coordination, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock are jointly implementing the project.</p>
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