Leaders on Santa Catalina Island, also known as Aorigi, in Makira's Far East have established a development plan to boost development on the island.

Santa Catalina Island has pristine beaches and an idyllic island setting but for the past 30 years it has had one of the highest population growth rates in the country at 3 per cent per annum combined with its lack of basic water, sanitation and its dwindling natural resources.

A five day workshop was held on the first week of October by the Santa Catalina Development Association assisted by a $45,000 grant from the Ministry of Rural Development's rural livelihood programme. The funds were made possible through the East Makira Constituency.

The workshop mapped out a plan for 2009 - 2012 that would guide the development in improving living conditions and services to the island community. The workshop selected seven areas to address, these being: water supply, education, food security, income generation, health, culture and transport and communications.

Over one hundred community leaders and young people took part in the workshop. The workshop was officially opened by Makira province minister for community affairs and social development, Martin Karani.

He said the outcome of the workshop as indicated in the programme was in line with the plan of Makira Provincial government.

Karani added that his government wants to see rural development to happen and would work with the people wards to support their initiatives.

He said it was important that the islanders work towards solving our own problems rather than wait for handouts. He said the starting point would be a development plan.

Santa Catalina ward member Joash Francis Asau said that the strategies developed in the workshop would help improve the living conditions of the village people and enhance economic and social development.

Chairman of the Santa Catalina Development Association Moffat Wasuka said the workshop was about setting a plan to improve the living conditions on the island. The plan must start with the basic needs of village life.

The office bearers of the Santa Catalina Development Association were elected in a general meeting by the island community at the end of the five days.

Press Release