Solomons flood victims urge govt to live up to promises

The April Valley community of relocated flood victims.
The April Valley community of relocated flood victims.

VICTIMS of devastating floods in Solomon Islands three years ago, many of whom are still living in makeshift housing, are calling on the government to live up to its promises.

More than 20 people died when the Mataniko River burst its banks in April 2014, wiping out the village in Kwa Valley.

After the floods, the government relocated residents to the hills above East Honiara, promising to help them rebuild and restore basic utilities.

The chairman of the tight knit community in April Valley, Michael Fa’abona, told Radio New Zealand they are not ungrateful for this land that the government gave them after the floods.

“For me like in terms of the land I am happy with what the government has done. But when other things that the government has promised it will do for us victims hasn’t happen it really does not make me feel good,” he said.

“Because we live as citizens of this country and we see the government as our father. So I feel the government should recognise us and think of us and help us with the things they have already promised.”

Mr Fa’abona says the government had promised to help them build new homes and bring water and power into the community.

He said the ministry of lands had also promised that each family would be given land titles with 75-year leases for their designated plots.

But he says three years have gone by and none of these promises have been kept and his community continues to struggle to rebuild a life on the land.

“Some of those you see sitting in small houses on the clover, that have managed to put up some timber and some roofing iron it is through their own efforts. Some of us are still living under tents if you go around you will see them they are all torn now. You know they have served us well since 2014 but they are no longer any good.”

But women’s leader Brenda Ketea says there are more pressing issues than housing in April Valley.

“Our biggest problems are access to water and health clinics because it is a new home for us we find it hard, especially with water. We use wells and it is quite hard work pulling up water and our wells are not that hygienic. We use these wells to do our washing and we even drink and bathe from them as well.”

Mrs Ketea says when they first started using the wells some of the children got really sick and because the nearest medical clinic was miles away and part of the journey could only be made on foot, some had died on the way to hospital.

The Minister of Lands, Moses Garu, said as far as he was aware the ministry was still working on getting water and power to the victims.

But he said other issues related to land tenure were more complex and had encountered some issues because opportunists who were not victims of the floods had also been moving in on the allocated lands.