Improving health and nutrition in remote Solomon Islands

World Vision’s Health Improvement Project is improving the health and wellbeing of children and families in remote communities in the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal. The goal of the Health Improvement Project is for communities to adopt life skills and health practices needed to protect the health of children and families, improve the economy of vulnerable households and have communities prepare and mitigate risks of climate change and natural hazards that impact the lives of communities. 

Through health promotion activities World Vision has been promoting the clean village approach as well as educating communities about hygiene and hand washing and disease prevention.   Communities have also been given agricultural training that has improved food security as well as the nutrition status of children and pregnant women as communities learn about the importance of eating a balanced diet, preparing healthy food and exclusive breastfeeding for infants.

On a recent visit to Boliu community and Longgu Avuavu School, representatives from the AusAid NGO Coopreration Program, Solomon Island NGO Partnership Agreement and Live and Learn joined World Vision staff to monitor the impact World Vision’s Health Improvement Project has provided to communities in the Weathercoast.

Lyneth Saganapure, Boliu Early Childhood Education Teacher, spoke to them about the positive impact the project has brought to nearly 200 people living in her community especially with through improved farming practices.

“Through the training offered by World Vision we now have food security.  Before the training we didn’t know how to plant crops properly and during the wet season we were hungry all the time. Now we know what to plant, when to plant and how to preserve food.  We have small gardens and adapt for wet and dry season,” she said.

World Vision has been working with Kastom Garden, a local Non-Governement Organisation, to register 12 communities to ensure they have access to a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds that will enable communities to meet their nutritional needs.  Agriculture training has been provided through exposure trips to demonstration gardens and through discussion with farmers who have implemented techniques that have improved their crop production.

 Betsy Naro, class teacher from Longgu Avuavu School says that through World Vision’s Health Improvement Project, the health of nearly 300 children at the school has improved as they learn how to improve their farming practices and eating nutritious meals.

“Now we know what type of food we need to eat and how to plant our gardens which has given us food security,” she said.

Through the Health Improvement Project, Longgua Avuavu School is working hard to provide a healthy clean environment for students to live and learn.  They have established a demonstration garden, implemented beautification zones which each class is responsible for maintaining, dug dry pit toilets and rubbish pits. While the focus of the project is on the school, Ms. Naro also commented on how the benefits are being felt in surrounding communities.

“What we teachers are learning through the school activities is also helping our communities. We are planting flowers at home and are cleaning up our own communities,” she said.   

The Health Improvement Project on the Weather Coast is due to be completed later this year and will be followed by a Maternal Child Health and Nutrition project that will focus on improving mother and child health and nutrition improving knowledge of health issues relating to pregnancy, delivery and children 0-5 years.  It will also aim to improve the relationship between existing health centres and communities.  World Vision currently has Maternal Child Health Projects in South Malaita, Makira and Temotu Provinces.