Overview of Australia's aid program to Solomon Islands

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$89.9 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$92.7 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$175.9 million

Australia is a major economic, development and security partner to Solomon Islands and is in a unique position to help the country realise its potential.  We are the country’s largest donor, providing three-quarters of Solomon Islands’ aid in 2015–16, and draw upon our experience and partnerships across a broad range of sectors to promote and support change.

In 2015-16, Australia’s total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Solomon Islands will be an estimated $175.9 million. Of this, DFAT will manage an estimated $92.7 million in bilateral funding.

Australia provides substantial support through bilateral development cooperation and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).  Following the conflict known as the Tensions (1998–2003), which led to the near collapse of the Solomon Islands state, Australia has been instrumental in restoring law and order and laying the foundations for economic stability. 

Solomon Islands has made significant political and economic gains in the last decade. Established industries, such as agricultural exports and palm oil and tuna processing, offer opportunities to realise economies of scale. The country’s natural resources can contribute to economic development.

Major constraints to growth and private sector investment include poor infrastructure, low labour skills, high utility costs and land tenure issues.  Public administration and financial management are weak and burdensome, reducing incentives for international investors as well as success and innovation by local firms.

Development outcomes in Solomon Islands lag behind the rest of the region. It is ranked 157 out of 187 countries on the 2014 UN Human Development Index.  Gross domestic product per capita is among the lowest in the region at US$2000 and has only now recovered to levels before the Tensions.

Deep gender inequality constrains the opportunities available to women, to the detriment of the economy and society more broadly.  Rates of violence against women are among the highest in the world with an estimated two-thirds of women aged 15–49 having experienced physical or sexual violence.

In the long term, inclusive economic growth and strengthened human productivity will underpin stability in Solomon Islands.  Solomon Islands Government’s own National Development Strategy recognises this with a focus on economic growth, poverty reduction and quality social services.  To support this, Australia will retain a strategic focus on stability while increasing emphasis on investments that directly facilitate economic growth and enable wealth creation.

Our program focuses on three strategic objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan for 2015–16 to 2018–19:

  • Supporting stability
  • Enabling economic growth
  • Enhancing human development

Australia is committed to ensuring our development efforts in Solomon Islands achieve outcomes for women and girls and people with disabilities.

Objective 1: Supporting stability

A stable Solomon Islands is critical to economic growth, human development and regional security.  Australia provides broad assistance, including in elections and policing as well as for the formal justice sector and traditional justice structures. Australia’s support also helps improve public sector management and addresses legislative and regulatory constraints for quality government services to business and the community.

Objective 1: Supporting stability

Objective 2: Enabling economic growth

Australia will increasingly support aid for trade initiatives that promote growth in the Solomon Island’s economy and build an enabling environment for investment.  Australia will work with the private sector to promote rural development and generate employment opportunities, with a strong focus on women.

Australia will continue to support infrastructure that enables economic growth. We will help increase access and use of financial services in Solomon Islands, in particular for rural women, through innovations including mobile phone and branchless banking technologies.

Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) connects Pacific island and Solomon Islands workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas.

Objective 2: Enabling economic growth

Objective 3: Enhancing human development

Australia supports education and health outcomes in Solomon Islands, which ultimately underpin stability and boost economic growth.  We support better quality education and skills development with dedicated support to women entrepreneurs.  Australia Awards scholarships support emerging leaders to contribute to economic and social development of Solomon Islands.  In health, Australia works closely with the Solomon Islands Government to deliver better health services to communities.

Objective 3: Enhancing human development

Our results

Our results for 2014–15 will be updated later this year.  In 2013–14, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • supporting the development and implementation of key policies and legislation, including implementation of the new Public Financial Management Act 2013
  • the maintenance of 643 kilometres of roads and 15 wharves by June 2015, double from one year earlier. In 2014, Australian-supported transport works created 157,622 days of employment, of which 42 per cent was for women
  • facilitating trade through assistance to Solomon Islands Customs, with a focus on examinations, revenue and information management. The new customs information system ASYCUDA will benefit all businesses through faster processing of good
  • decreasing malaria rates by 75 per cent since 2003 and reducing malaria mortality rates by 80 per cent
  • the continuing decline in child and maternal deaths and doubling the availability of essential medicines at the national level from 47 per cent in 2007 to 93 per cent in 2014
  • improving literacy and numeracy rates: in 2014, 66.4% of year 4 students achieved minimum literacy standards, up from 32 per cent in 2011.  Australia also supported a Solomon Islands Government initiative to remove school fees and provide grants to schools allowing 150,000 youth to get an education;
  • increasing the proportion of Solomon Water samples that pass WHO bacteria standards from less than half in 2011 to over 90 per cent in 2014
  • an additional 62,046 people accessing banking services by the three years to 2013. Of these new customers, 31,915 were added in 2013, of which 10,133 were female customers, and
  • passing the Solomon Islands Family Protection Act in August 2014. Targeted support will focus on preventing family violence and implementing the landmark act, which criminalises domestic violence.

Our changing program

The three strategic objectives of the Solomon Islands Aid Investment Plan are closely connected and mutually reinforcing.  Over the life of the AIP, we will continue to adjust the relative weight of our programming between these three objectives as Solomon Islands continues to recover from conflict. This will be achieved mainly through a gradual and careful shift out of aid investments that underpin stability and prevent wealth destruction and into investments that directly facilitate economic growth and enable wealth creation.

Australia will also help achieve outcomes for women and girls in Solomon Islands by integrating effective responses to gender inequality into new and existing programs.

Trish Dallu, APTC graduate hairdresser and owner of Trish and Ada’s Hair and Beauty (credit: DFAT).
A banner is displayed during a peace rally in Honiara, Solomon Islands (credit: Australian Federal Police).
Building a road between Auki and Malu'u, Solomon Islands (credit: DFAT).