The Asian Development Bank's Board of Directors have approved the administration of two additional cofinancing grants from the Australian and New Zealand Governments to help restore essential transport links between Honiara and West Guadalcanal.

The grants from Australia ($A300, 000), and from New Zealand ($NZ500, 000) will be used to reconnect communities in West Guadalcanal to clinics, schools, and markets in Honiara. Severe weather and a series of floods earlier this year damaged roads and bridges in the west and severely disrupted transport services.

The assistance will be channeled through ADB's Solomon Island Road Improvement Project (SIRIP), co-funded by the Australian and New Zealand Governments, and the European Commission.

Climate change analysis for the project has already begun. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development will soon award contracts to carry out the temporary restoration works under the project. Permanent works will begin after contracts are awarded in September 2010.

SIRIP is replacing or upgrading about 30 water crossings, reconstructing about 20 kilometers of roads as well as arranging selective road relocations for climate change adaptation across three provinces.

The Makira phase of the project is well underway, upgrading and rehabilitating 25 river crossings and 70km of gravel road.

ADB is pleased to be working with Australia, New Zealand, the European Commission, and the Solomon Islands Government, through the Solomon Islands Road Improvement Project," said Eugenue Zhukov, Regional Director of the Asian Development Bank In Australia. "SIRIP is reconnecting communities and sustaining economic activities in Solomon Islands."

SIRIP continues to provide opportunities for rural communities to participate in labor-based road maintenance which involves community groups using simple tools rather than large machines to do road maintenance such as pothole filling, or vegetation clearing.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region.

In 2009, it approved a total of $16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, a trade finance facilitation program, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilized cofinancing amounting to $3.2 billion.

Source: Press Release, Asian Development Bank.