High Cost Of Housing In Solomon Islands Capital Out Of Reach

Researcher says more people are resorting to informal settlements around Honiara

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 25, 2017) – Houses in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara have become so expensive they are now out of the reach of even the most senior civil servants.

Independent researcher Luke Kiddle said the agency charged with developing affordable homes has been selling them at about 50 to 70 times the median wage.

Mr Kiddle said the situation worsened during the RAMSI period when there was an influx of expatriates into the city.

He said urgent work was needed to bring housing within reach of average Solomon Islanders.

"I think a comprehensive package is also needed; innovative thinking is needed and a discussion. I think, should be held on reducing standards which lead to very high new subdivision costs. And this is the thorny one I think; looking at opportunities to increase the supply of urban land."

More resorting to informal settlements

Research conducted by Mr Kiddle and the Australia National University's Meg Keen, also found that informal settlements in the Solomon Islands capital were expanding and a better approach was needed to manage their growth.

The research said about two out of five people in Honiara lived in settlements and that number was increasing rapidly.

Many of the settlements had poor services and infrastructure.

But land was a sensitive issue in the capital and on Guadalcanal, and Mr Kiddle said the government needed to be innovative in how it approached its urban growth challenges.

"Many of the settlements, particularly outside of the formal town boundary, are on customary land. Some of those settlers may have an arrangement with the landowner, some may not. So yeah, very sensitive issues, very complex issues, and the way forward is not necessarily clear. But what is obvious, I think, is that the scale of the issue is getting more serious."

He said stakeholders needed to put their heads together to look at ways urban growth can be better managed.

Mr Kiddle also said the government could look into developing social housing.

Radio New Zealand International
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