The Australian High Commission has handed over a cheque for nearly SBD350,000 to Oxfam International, to implement the Community Land Rights Awareness Project in Gizo.

The Oxfam project focuses on strengthening the economic and social rights of people displaced by the April 2007 tsunami in Solomon Islands' Western Province, and aims to increase women's participation in decision making on land issues.

Handing over the cheque, Deputy High Commissioner, Alison Duncan, said the Australian High Commission was proud to work with Oxfam International to further rehabilitation in areas affected by the 2006 tsunami.

"Australia was pleased to be able to provide immediate assistance following the tragic events of April 2nd 2006, and we are pleased now to provide this further contribution to longer term recovery in Gizo."

Oxfam International Acting Director, Martha Mangale, said Oxfam was working in cooperation with the Western Province Council of Women to mitigate the risk of displaced populations losing their rights to land, or being further marginalised where they do not have customary land tenure.

"This important work would not be possible without the funding provided by Australia, through the Human Rights Small Grants Scheme program."

Gizo Project Officer, Erika Bockstael, said the project would involve training, technical advice and mentoring to the Western Province Council of Women and 12 community representatives, to support democratic decision making over land tenure.

The Oxfam Community Land Rights Awareness Project was one of nineteen human rights projects funded under the Australian Human Rights Small Grants Scheme in 2008-2009.

Australia's targeted support to Pacific Island nations through projects like these will help address local constraints to growth and challenges to nation building and stability. This will be vital to assisting partner governments in the Pacific protect human rights and fulfil their international human rights obligations.

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