It looked scary when villagers dressed like traditional warriors rushed towards Ms. Ligia Elizondo with spears and bush knives, but it was only part of Horobau's heartily welcome to UNDP's Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.The threatening introduction soon evolved into a welcome ceremony to honor the prominent guest from New York. Hundreds of villagers from Horobau and nearby villages had gathered to attend her visit.
Ms. Ligia Elizondo visited Horobau village in Aruligo (West Guadalcanal) Monday to inaugurate the village's new water supply system and to view results of the joint programme of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), AusAID and the Solomon Islands Government through National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). The programme helps villagers to reconstruct important infrastructure after natural disasters.
"UNDP and AusAID, your assistance is like a ray of sunlight in our darkest hours. The funding you provide to facilitate a reliable water supply will greatly improve the lives of our people. In short: Water is life, and you have given us hope to be able to live life again" said community representative Julian Chonigolo in her speech to the visitors.
As a sign of gratitude from the villagers Ms. Elizondo was given a live pig, as well as a load of vegetables.
In her speech to the villagers Ms. Elizondo expressed thankfulness to the Aruligo communities for their efforts to implement the project. Furthermore, she underlined that the new water supply has proved to be reliable.
"The construction and rehabilitation of wells in safer locations has enabled communities to once again have access to safe, healthy and reliable water. This time the wells have not been affected by the seasonal flood."
AusAID has contributed with 2.8 million SBD to the "Flash Flood project", and AusAID Counsellor Ms. Juliet Brassington emphazised that the joint response from UNDP, AusAID and NDMO has benefited all parts involved.
"The joint response through the project results in better assessment on flood affected areas, coordination of early recovery, livelihood rehabilitation and enhancing affected communities' resilience", she said.
Ms. Elizondo had a busy schedule on Monday, starting off with meeting the honorable Prime Minister Dr. Derek Sikua, before she subsequently met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. William Haomae, Head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Father Samuel Ata and Speaker of the Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea. The village visit was done in the afternoon, after the meetings.
Ms. Elizondo leaves the Solomon Islands Tuesday. The next destination in her Pacific itinerary is Fiji.
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