Restoring Connectivity and Flood Resiliency of Roads in Solomon Islands
- Project Name: Transport Sector Flood Recovery Project
- Region/Country: Pacific/Solomon Islands
- Sector and Themes: Transport
- Year: 2015-2019
- Project Leaders: Elma Morsheda
Communities in the east and west can still get to town now even when some main rivers are flooded... That means sick people can reach clinics and hospitals in town for treatment during heavy storms.
In 2014, tropical cyclone Ita brought severe flooding to Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, and surrounding areas. The storm damaged and destroyed major infrastructure, and the Government of Solomon Islands declared a state disaster for Honiara and all of Guadalcanal province. Total losses were more than $107 million, the equivalent of 9.2% of Solomon Islands’ GDP in 2014. The housing sector accounted for about 56%, and transport, 23%, of the total. A rapid assessment by ADB and other development partners determined that roads and bridges should be repaired immediately to minimize secondary impacts on the economy, and to restore connectivity to essential services. The government developed a recovery plan, which required almost $35 million in total reconstruction costs for the transport sector.
ADB approved the Transport Sector Flood Recovery Project to support the government’s recovery plan. The project was aimed at restoring socioeconomic activities to at least pre-flood levels and bringing more resilient connectivity. The country’s National Transport Plan 2011–2030 and the National Transport Fund, established with ADB TA, enabled the government to formally set out a policy framework in developing and maintaining transport infrastructure as well as improving the capacity of government agencies and the private sector toward sustainable transport management.
Knowledge products and services delivered
A design supervision consultant helped the Ministry of Infrastructure Development to conduct a feasibility study and design the civil works contract. The consultant also conducted baseline and post-project household surveys of the communities living in the areas surrounding the subproject sites. The civil works contract had 12 subprojects comprising construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, which reestablished the connectivity between east and west of Guadalcanal province through Honiara. To help overcome an initial staff shortage in the ministry, a short-term project-specific graduate recruitment program enabled it to hire eight engineers from the University of the South Pacific, Solomon Islands, to contribute to the improvement of construction supervision.
Impact and results
The post-project household survey found that beneficiaries were satisfied with the reconnected road, but the benefits from the reconnection depend on whether these are maintained. The survey provides input in improved services to ensure that connectivity remains sustainable over the anticipated 25-year life of the project. The government, through the Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Improvement Program, developed a transport infrastructure maintenance mechanism using the National Transport Fund, and is expanding its transport sector development to include physical, financial, and institutional aspects in enhancing the road services and asset management. The assignment of graduate engineers provided learning opportunities and enabled them to become part of a professional talent pool with practical experience.
Lessons for Replication
The sector approach used in constructing and rehabilitating linked roads and maintenance could be applied in future interventions. For Solomon Islands, employing graduate engineers will help them land jobs later. Similar projects should also include a thorough assessment of the country’s weather, the government’s capacity constraints, and the time required to assess the severity of damage and complete the feasibility study. They should also resolve land disputes over construction sites.