While the Tina River Hydropower Development Project itself is set to create cheaper, more reliable energy for Solomon Islanders, local communities will also benefit through community development funds, employment opportunities, and training. A 3-day workshop called "You and Your Money Towards Better Living" which was held last week, provided participants practical training to help build their capacity and improve knowledge around financial management and savings skills.
For the 22 representatives from Mbahomea, Malatoha and Mbelaha regions attending the training at St. Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara, the sessions provided information and resources to be in a better position to capitalise on the economic opportunities that the Project will bring in the future. Participants, made up of 13 women and 9 men including Tribal Cooperative Committees, engaged in group activities, discussions and presentations on topics regarding the importance of money – from earning it to controlled spending, profit & loss and cash flow.
Attendees received certificates for completing the 4-hour short course which was facilitated by a local training provider, Solomon Islands Small Business Enterprise Centre (SISBEC). The participants, with new skills and knowledge on money matters, are now tasked to take this information back into their communities and share their knowledge to empower and impact even more people.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) are focused on continuing to deliver on all elements of the Project. This initiative implemented by the Project Office under the Gender Action Plan (GAP), was devised as a way to provide and support equal opportunity for women and men to participate, contribute to and benefit from the Project in order to better their lives financially as the project progresses in their communities. With the Tina River Hydro Power Development Project being on their doorsteps, there will be a growing opportunity for communities for work, business and other economic improvements. The program was aimed to help these communities’ make informed judgments and effective decisions about the use and management of money.
The course catered for people from various backgrounds in the community, some of which have already benefited financially from the project through landowner schemes. Training on financial literacy is key for these communities to help provide realisation that they can manage their money better; to invest and set up small businesses that can help provide financial stability for their families in the future. One woman attending the training shared her thoughts. “I learnt about how to handle money, budgeting, savings and in particular, how to spend money. I have never used my money wisely and the training helped me to realize that it is important to spend for things I need rather than what I want.”
The 15 MW Hydropower infrastructure worth an estimated US $240 million is the first of its kind for the Solomon Islands. While the government remains committed to the long-term future of delivering renewal energy and more affordable electricity to its people, it hopes the major infrastructure project will play a key role in its economic recovery in the Solomon Islands.