Warm welcome to UNDP official visiting village in Solomon Islands

13 Apr 2010

(Honiara, Solomon Islands) – It looked scary when villagers dressed like traditional warriors rushed towards Ms Ligia Elizondo with spears and bush knives, but it was only part of Horobau’s heartily welcome to UNDP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

The threatening introduction soon evolved into a welcome ceremony to honor the prominent guest from New York. Hundreds of villagers from Horobau and nearby villages had gathered to attend her visit. As a sign of gratitude from the villagers Ms Elizondo was given traditional gifts including a live pig, as well as a load of vegetables.

“UNDP and AusAID, your assistance is like a ray of sunlight in our darkest hours. The funding you provide to facilitate a reliable water supply will greatly improve the lives of our people. In short: Water is life, and you have given us hope to be able to live life again” said community representative Julian Chonigolo in her speech to the visitors.

Ms Ligia Elizondo visited Horobau village in Aruligo (West Guadalcanal) Monday to inaugurate the village’s new water supply system and to view results of the joint programme of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), AusAID and the Solomon Islands Government through National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). The programme helps villagers to reconstruct important infrastructure after natural disasters.

In her speech to the villagers Ms Elizondo expressed thankfulness to the Aruligo communities for their efforts to implement the project. Furthermore, she underlined that the new water supply has proved to be reliable.

“The construction and rehabilitation of wells in safer locations has enabled communities to once again have access to safe, healthy and reliable water. This time the wells have not been affected by the seasonal flood.”

During the three-day visit to the Solomon Islands, Ms Elizondo, met with key politicians in the country to discuss strategic national issues such as the upcoming elections, peace building, and the impact of climate change. 

UNDP’s work in capacity building is very important for the future of the country, said Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua during a meeting with Ms Elizondo yesterday, it is “empowering our people to take control of their own lives, and not rely on others.”

The Prime Minister particularly mentioned UNDP/UNCDF’s Provincial Governance Strengthening Programme, which is active in all nine provinces.  The five-year programme builds capacity in public expenditure management in provincial governments, and is funded by the European Union, RAMSI/AusAID, UNDP and UNCDF.

Ms Elizondo left the Solomon Islands Tuesday, and is currently in Fiji.