The Solomon Islands, Post Tsunami: Can You Help?

By Willaim Darby/The Ghizo Tsunami Appeal Fund

Since the tsunami on 2nd April this year, life has been dramatically altered in Ghizo Island, home to the capital of the Western Province in the Solomon Islands.
Ghizo is relatively small compared to the surrounding islands, yet it’s a hub of activity for all inhabitants of the Province.

Where once the picturesque villages stood on the shore, now only empty spaces remain, with perhaps the odd crooked foundation stilt jutting out of the sand, providing the only evidence of once thriving communities. The villagers have left the shoreline and are camped in the jungle, high up on the hill, safe from any more tsunamis. However, these temporary settlements cannot support them forever, and soon the time will come for them to rebuild the villages and pick up their lives from where they left off.

The market in the main town, Gizo, is now up and running, and so are most of the stores. However, the hospital, the town’s most important asset after the tsunami, was badly damaged by the surge of water, and now the detrimental effects on public health are showing on Ghizo and neighbouring islands which also rely upon the Gizo Hospital’s services.
Food and water shortages are now the largest problem facing the inhabitants, along with the widespread fear of diseases such as malaria and dysentery.

The situation on Ghizo, thanks to international aid, is not a humanitarian crisis. However this doesn’t mean that people aren’t facing massive problems in recovering a normal life. Rebuilding costs are beyond the means of many of the people affected, and there is psychological damage, too. Many are still convinced that a tsunami will strike again, and the longer they remain in perched the hillside in poor conditions, the worse the situation will become.

For anyone wishing to donate to the Ghizo Tsunami Fund, which is an appeal dedicated to directly helping these people, please send a cheque payable to ‘The Ghizo Tsunami Fund’ to the following address:

C. Hoare and Co, 37 Fleet Street, London EC4P 4DQ

Ghizo Life


BEFORE

Ghizo Island, home to the capital of the Western Province, Gizo, is relatively small when compared to the surrounding islands, yet is a hub of activity for all inhabitants of the Province. With its busy market full of local produce, world- class diving locations and small, sandy islands scattered around its coastline Ghizo is the picture of Solomon Island life. Away from the town, a subsistent village life prevails, with coastal settlements relying on the abundant fish stocks to feed themselves, and the pristine rainforest to provide food and materials with which to build their homes.

Life away from the town is basic, and with no electricity, all food is cooked over an open fire and kerosene lamps provide the only light for homes. Running water flows from the rocks into crude concrete dams in the hill, providing a water source for the villagers. A truck runs along the bumpy coastal road to the Gizo town once a day, allowing villagers a chance to get to the market to sell produce, saving them the long walk in the strong sunshine.

Generally, life on Ghizo is very relaxed, and owing to the lack of work most people spend their days tending their potato gardens on the hillsides, or fishing to feed their families from dug- out canoes.


AFTER

Ever since the tsunami on 2nd April this year, life has been dramatically altered. Where once the picturesque villages stood on the shore, now only empty spaces remain, with perhaps the odd crooked foundation stilt jutting out of the sand, providing the only evidence of the once thriving communities that enjoyed life here. The villagers have left the shoreline and are now camped in the jungle, high up on the hill, safe from any more tsunamis. However, these temporary settlements cannot support them forever, and soon the time will come for them to rebuild the villages and pick up their lives from where they left off.

The market in Gizo is now up and running, and so are most of the stores. However, the hospital, which became the town’s most important asset after the tsunami, was badly damaged by the surge of water, which has had a detrimental effect on the health of the island and neighbouring islands which rely upon the Gizo Hospital’s services. A field hospital was set up on the same day as the earthquake, a tarpaulin providing shelter, and foam mattresses as beds. This is still the main hospital for the entire area.

As with most natural disasters, factors such as food and water shortages are now the largest problem facing the inhabitants, along with the widespread fear of diseases such as malaria and dysentery.

The situation on Ghizo, thanks to international aid, is not a humanitarian crisis. However this does not mean that the people are not facing massive problems in terms of rebuilding and the large costs and effort. Many are still convinced that a tsunami will strike again, and the longer they remain in perched the hillside in poor conditions, the worse the situation will become.

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