Monday, 27 February 2012 8:25 PM

Being Poor in SI

Solomon people are only poor as far as SIG Treasury and personal cash money is concerned. Those people with paid jobs should begin to see the real problem.
You SI people are rich in real values of life like character, spirit, politeness, family relationships, and friendliness. But cash is almost non existent.

I know many people who have left their village and gone to Honiara in search of work to earn money to survive, especially to pay for food. I know one with a new baby who has gone to Australia to survive and send money home. Just potato or rice gets boring, terrible for mother and baby.

Traditional staple protein fish supply in SI until recently was abundant and fresh and free, but not now. Yet SI still has some of the best fishing in the world, compared to other country fish devastation.

World food sustainability is at stake.

People can no longer live from the sea. Tropical gardens do not produce essential amino acids found in fish protein. Buying imported or local chicken feed is impossible for most families.

I see people with just a few SI dollars contributing to buy 25 litres of petrol at more than Australian $2 per litre, to travel just one way to Noro to buy net boat fish. Some net boat fish have recently gone from SBD$50 per bag to SBD$100.
Then there is the trip home with another 25 litres of fuel and the damaged and rotting fish.

Once home a crowd forms to see fish only some people can afford, if there is any left over by those who contributed for the fuel. Come market day most of the village people can not afford to transport cost, so a few vegetables don't get to market and even if they did they often don't sell for enough to pay the transport.

Reef fish supply from Gizo to Honiara is clearly not sustainable. One fisherman told me he used to spear 80-90 kg in 1 to 2 hours but that would now take him 10 to 11 hours.

A qualified SI man tells me there is now starvation in the Langa Langa.

I hear of various islands now calling for food aid after bad weather. Why don't they eat fish, have they got enough nearby to catch?

Fuel for finding and catching fish is also prohibitive. I have a friend that eats one meal a day, usually just rice, sometimes rice with just cabbage. He has a wife and 3 young children to feed and he is only 40 and can now hardly see due to apparent onset of malnutrition linked diabetes.

It's time the real collapse of food sustainability in SI became seen and solutions put in place, such as overseas employment to pay wages to provide cash to buy alternative food.

SI people already overseas and over staying visa should be given amnesty under the circumstances that have gone unseen, not duly attended to, and that have developed to the shocking state they are at right now.

SI now has the highest rate of stunting in the Pacific and a high incidence of Leprosy and Diabetes, all linked to protein deficiency malnutrition.

Baitfish are devastated because their seagrass nurseries are dead due to algae fed by sewage nutrient pollution. It's worldwide. It's not over fishing. It's the nutrient overload.

Perhaps key people are unwilling or unable to see what is really happening while victims continue to die, the 69% increase in anemia and malnutrition-linked maternal mortality and stunted youth victims all included.
Australia should really help, neighbors and all.

Give amnesty to the Visa over-stayers. Australia could develop partnerships with bottom of economy people too. SI people are nice people.

There is no justification to continue political demand for scientific evidence of fish devastation before solutions can be considered. Where is evidence fish devastation and consequences are not happening.

Loss of traditional food and lifestyle is why many good people have moved to town.

Read http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0515_030515_fishdecline.html

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of John C Fairfax and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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