Honiara’s Young Unemployed Population
Only 20 percent of the youth population aged 15-24, living in the Solomon Islands capital city of Honiara are employed. In rural areas, 50 percent of the youths are either unemployed or inactive. Honiara is a growing city with people flooding in from the remote parts of the country looking for work.
Fabian, a youth from the Island of Malaita, left his parents and siblings and went to Honiara in search of a job.
“My parents don’t have work. They stay at home. All my brothers and sisters don’t have employment. I am the only one that came to Honiara to find a job to help my family,” said Fabian.
Little did he know there were no job opportunities to fit everyone who had the same need as him. Disappointed in not finding a job and with a lot of time on his hands, Fabian eventually was pressured into petty crime and drug use from some of the youths in the settlement where he lives.
The Government of Solomon Islands has introduced the Rapid Employment Project, to provide training and work opportunities for vulnerable communities in Honiara, including youths. This project became a catalyst in turning around Fabian’s life from being a petty criminal and drug user living in the settlements to becoming a small business owner.
Fabian attended the training and the work placement provided by the project. He was then able to build on the knowledge he acquired through the training sessions on savings and financial skills and used the money he earned through the project to buy small items to sell, and bit by bit was able to build his own canteen business.
“I started this small canteen after I finished with the cleanup work in town. So I feel good about helping myself this time. I stopped following the other guys because I am busy now days with my canteen,” Said Fabian proudly.
With the Rapid Employment Project offering more short term work opportunities, Fabian hopes to get another short work placement with the project. From now on, he hopes the future will be bright.
“I look back at my life before. It was useless and didn’t benefit my life. Now my life is steady. My hope for the future is I will continue to try and have a balanced life. I’m thinking of doing something big to benefit my life.”
The Rapid Employment Project started in June 2010 and is being implemented by the Honiara City Council and Ministry of Infrastructure Development. The US$7.2 million project is funded by the World Bank through an IDA Grant, State and Peace-building Fund and Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility which is financed by Australia and New Zealand.
To date, more than SBD 7.5 million (approximately USD 1 million) has been invested into communities and surrounding areas in Honiara through the transfer of wages. Over 250, 000 labor days have been created by the project, with about 15,000 people benefitting from training and work activities.
Approximately 57 percent of total beneficiaries are women and 50 percent youth. It’s not just the individuals who have benefited but also the community through road improvements, rubbish collection and much more. The REP is expected to exceed its labor day targets by the end of the project in 2015.