The Solomon Islands are highly vulnerable to both hydrometeorological and geophysical disasters that include cyclones, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanoes. The country is expected to incur an average $20 million per year in losses due to earthquakes and tropical cyclones. In December 2016, an undersea earthquake of magnitude 8.0 occurred in southwest of Kirakira, Makira Ulawa Province, impacting approximately 9,769 people. In April 2014, flash flooding in Guadalcanal Province was estimated to have displaced 10,000 people and caused damages and losses equivalent to 9 percent of the GDP. A 2007 earthquake and tsunami were estimated to have caused damages equivalent to 80 percent of the GDP, 36,000 in total. With 80 percent of the population living in rural areas, disaster response is often time-consuming and expensive. Post-disaster transportation costs add a significant fiscal burden and in the past have delayed in the distribution of relief goods.
The country’s vulnerability may increase as a result of climate change. In the next 50 years, estimates show that the Solomon Islands has a 50 percent chance of losing more than $240 million to natural hazard events and suffering more than 1,600 casualties. It has a 10 percent chance of losing more than $520 million and suffering 4,600 casualties.
The Solomon Islands has taken steps to increase resilience and reduce risk from natural hazards and climate change. In 2009, the Government of the Solomon Islands developed a National Disaster Risk Management Plan, which supported the establishment of institutional arrangements for the Government to address disaster risk management (DRM) in the country. The Government developed a Climate Change Policy (2012) that guides climate risk management work by identifying the multi-sectoral effects of climate change and calling for the integration of climate risk management across sectors. The government also undertook legislation and institutional reforms in its five-year Strategic Priorities (2015-2020) to create an enabling environment for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction.
To further advance its climate and DRM, national priorities include:
- Increasing understanding of risk;
- Increasing the use of risk information;
- Strengthening institutional capacity development; and,
- Enhancing emergency communications and monitoring.
GFDRR has supported the advancement of DRM in the Solomon Islands since 2008, with a focus on identifying and understanding risks, strengthening community resilience, and building back better after disasters.
Under PCRAFI, risk information and models were developed to form the basis for applications in risk financing, risk transfer strategies, urban and infrastructure planning, and loss prediction from hazard events. Building upon these results, the Solomon Islands took part in the first multi-country PCRAFI insurance pilot, which tested a risk transfer arrangement to assess financial risks posed by natural hazards in the Pacific region.
In 2012, GFDRR also supported the development of “Acting Today for Tomorrow: A Policy and Practice Note for Climate- and Disaster-Resilient Development in the Pacific Islands Region,” a report which informs the World Bank’s dialogue and engagement in the Pacific region.
Through the Community Resilience to Climate Change and Natural Hazard Project (CRISP), GFDRR is helping the Solomon Islands carry out reforms that strengthen national institutional arrangements for climate change and DRM. This engagement has also helped the government begin investing in resilience at the provincial and community levels, and it continues to support the establishment of volcano and seismic monitoring systems.
GFDRR has also supported post-disaster efforts. Following severe flash flooding in April 2014, GFDRR supported the preparation of a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA), which measured the impact of flooding on society, economy, and the environment to better understand financing needs for recovery and reconstruction.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand to strengthen disaster and climate resilience in the following areas:
- Improving the understanding of risk and the use of risk information for decision making;
- Designing and implementing investments at the provincial and community levels;
- Supporting institutional capacity development and coordination between the government’s disaster and climate divisions and key sectors such as agriculture, health, rural development, roads, and infrastructure;
- Exploring additional financial protection strategies;
- Improving the design of future community resilience investments;
- Initiating a comprehensive risk assessment of school infrastructure; and,
- Completing the volcano and seismic monitoring system.