International assistance to the Solomon Islands: is food and water security the highest priority?

Food security International cooperation Foreign aid International relations Humanitarian assistance Water security Solomon Islands

Food security in the Solomon Islands is supported by subsistence agriculture and food imports. Some foreign donors, such as Taiwan, encouraged the development of a domestic food industry that would reduce the country’s reliance on imported food. Despite operating for more than 30 years, however, the Taiwanese Technical Mission failed to establish a strong domestic livestock or cash crop sector. As the Solomon Islands faces numerous developmental challenges associated with limited economic opportunity, fragile state institutions and widespread inequality, Australia needs to ensure that its developmental assistance is used as effectively and as equitably as possible.

Key points:

  • While ethnic tensions have calmed, perceptions of unfair and unequal development are still strong in some parts of the country. The fragmented social and political order poses the greatest security threat.
  • Food and water security is weak in the Solomon Islands, but due to the history of state breakdown and ethnic violence most development assistance seeks to address a wider range of issues.
  • Taiwan engaged in efforts to promote agricultural development in the Solomon Islands for more than 30 years, with only limited success. Those programmes will be discontinued now that Honiara has recognised the People’s Republic of China.
  • For those reasons, Australia focusses most of its overseas development assistance to the Solomon Islands on programmes that support effective governance, the maintenance of law and order, and economic and human development.
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