Stories from change-makers in Solomon Islands
“Everyone practices open defecation,” Stella says. “Most people use the beach as the toilet, they go and come back and then others go and use it too.”
At school, Stella and her fellow teachers are responsible for supplying water for the students.
“The children I teach are little ones, so we have to find time to carry water from the village,” she explains. “We have to walk quite far. And we have to carry water to the school almost every day, so I don’t really like that.”
If Stella can get a job in a community with running water and safe sanitation, it might be too good an opportunity to pass up.
“If a water source was installed at the school this year or next year, I think I would be able to stay here, but if there is no water I think I will leave this place, even though the environment is good,” she says. “Water is the most important thing. We must have water to wash ourselves and prepare food.”
Ellena’s school didn’t use to have working toilets. Instead, when she and her classmates had to go to the bathroom, they went in a nearby river.
Unfortunately, this is common in the Solomon Islands where Ellena lives. Outside of urban areas, 78% of the population doesn’t have access to modern sanitation facilities and 33% don’t have reliable access to clean water. The old toilets at Ellena’s school were built more than ten years ago. They had fallen into disrepair and weren’t usable anymore.
Then, Plan partnered with a local organization in the Solomon Islands to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and improve hygiene practices in her community. In collaboration with Live & Learn Environmental Education Solomon Islands, Plan built hand-washing stations and school toilets.
And, Ellena and the other students learned how and when to wash their hands in order to stay healthy. Now, they don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom in the river — instead, they can focus on learning and growing up!
“Sometimes when I’m going into town and come back late, this place is unsafe for me,” she says. “When I’m dropped off from the bus, some people shout names at me and I feel hurt.”
Neslyn is part of Plan International’s Safer Cities for Girls project in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands. In one of the project’s activities, she and other young women in the area took part in a neighborhood safety walk. Together, they identified places where they feel unsafe, like the bus stop, and propose solutions.
“In the community, we should have more streetlights and more awareness,” Neslyn says. “We should talk about things that aren’t safe for girls.”
And now, those conversations are happening more frequently, thanks to the girls in the Safer Cities project. Plan includes local community leaders in safety walks and other activities, and helps girls advocate for the changes they want to see.
“Here girls are not involved in decision making in the community, but we have the right to,” Neslyn says. “It would be nice if we had more girls involved in making decisions, talking about girls’ rights. We need more girls.”
Plan International has been working to improve children’s lives in the Solomon Islands since 2017.
Our work in Solomon Islands
Office & operations
Plan Solomon Islands’ country office is located in Honiara, with program work in in the provinces of Guadalcanal, Isabel, Malaita and West Guadalcanal.
Disaster relief and preparedness, protection, health
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