The Solomon Islands is an archipelago comprising a double chain of 992 islands, of which about one-third are populated. It is divided into nine provinces. The capital city, Honiara is located on the island of Guadalcanal. The main islands are mountainous, heavily forested and with very limited infrastructure, while many outlying islands are atolls or raised coral islands. Some islands, notably the Santa Cruz Islands to the southeast, are very isolated, with many only accessible by sea.
The Solomon Islands is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including cyclones, tsunamis, floods and drought. It has a population of approximately 560,000 spread over 347 inhabited islands, which poses significant coordination, logistic and communication challenges during emergencies.
The Solomon Islands Government has established a national cluster system. While it differs from the international cluster approach, it does provide a relevant in-country framework and counterparts for the regional cluster leads.
In April 2007, a shallow earthquake measuring 8.1 magnitude triggered a tsunami that killed 52 people, displacing thousands, and extensively damaging infrastructure in Western and Choiseul Province. In response to a request from the government, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team was deployed to provide assistance.
In February 2013, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Santa Cruz Islands (Temotu Province) and was followed by a one metre high tsunami wave that killed 10 people. OCHA ROP deployed six staff members to provide surge support in coordination and Humanitarian Action Plan development. OCHA also provided financial tracking, situation reports, mapping and contributions to early recovery.
Three days of heavy rain from Tropical Cyclone Ita caused severe flooding in early April 2014. There were 22 confirmed deaths and over 50,000 people affected, mainly in the capital, Honiara, and other areas of Guadalcanal Province. At the peak of the crisis, approximately 10,000 people were displaced in nearly 30 evacuation centres. On 3 April, the Government declared affected areas a disaster zone and, on 5 April requested the support of the Pacific Humanitarian Team, who deployed over 40 personnel. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund released US$1.8 million to support life-saving health and WASH activities. The Humanitarian Action Plan funding requirement for immediate response needs was $13.6 million.
OCHA ROP continues to work with the government to build its capacity in emergencies and strengthen its Disaster Management Plan to improve coordination.