Wednesday, 6 November 2013 10:45 AM

Substance Abuse on the Rise Due to Rising Wealth

A World Bank report has found that substance abuse in Solomon Islands is becoming more pervasive due to wealth created by the resources sector.

Solomon Islands' Country Coordinator for the World Bank Daniel Evans told Pacific Beat substance abuse is creating many social problems in the country.

"It's having a dire effect in many places across the country to the extent that in some places, it's endemic," he said.

"It's leading to health problems naturally and criminal offending as well.

"Where you have high levels of substance abuse, you have domestic violence, you have fighting, you have stealing, you have all those other elements that come with endemic drinking and consuming of drugsn in particular marijuana."

Mr Evans says despite increasing wealth, women are being marginalized.

"It's having an influx of money within communities that isn't necessarily shared and is kept by generally senior male men that creates the conflict in the first place," he said.

"So you have certain individuals who might have a tenuous connection to land benefitting while the rest of the community in fact benefits little."

The report also found that a lack of access to state and local justice systems in the country, such as chiefs, church and community leaders, is leading to conflict in rural areas.

"In places that are experiencing natural resource development, and in particular, logging, you generally see a breakdown of all types of (justice) systems so one of the root of the problems is local level development particularly in the form of logging and more recently mining," Mr Evans said.

Mr Evans says part of the problem is that the government is not able to reach rural areas.
"The state justice system is largely confined to Honiara, it has only a very tenuous connection outside of the capital," he said.

"Since independence, we've seen a retreat of the state from the rural areas.

"We've seen the demise of what were local level governments in the form of area councils in 1989 and we've just seen a concentration of assets, resources and people in the capital... the services just do not reach the rural communities."

The World Bank's research shows that the government alone cannot deliver justice services to people in the rural areas.

"We need to have an engagement with an array of different actors... not only in the justice sector but also there needs to be engagment with local level systems and actors," he said.

"There needs to be engagement with those who are actually delivering the services now and they need to be supported in their role and that in particular, is the churches and the kastom system."

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-04/an-more-substance-abuse-in-solomon-islands-due-to-rising-wealth/5067760