The Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Co-ordination (MDPAC) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently held a Population and Development workshop in Rennell and Bellona Provincial Capital, Tingoa.
A total of 15 provincial participants participated in the 3 days’ “Population Planning and Data Dissemination Workshop” held from 1st -3rd November 2017. The participants included the Deputy Provincial Secretary, Chief Planning Officer, respective Area Administration Officers (AAO), Fisheries and Agricultural Officers, Community participants including head teachers of Schools in and around Tingoa, and a Women Desk Officer.
Director of Social Development and Governance Division, Mr. Samuel Aruhu said the workshop is a key activity under the division to encourage all provincial planners and other senior government officers working in the provinces to mainstream critical population issues in all their provincial planning and decision making processes.
He highlighted the importance of available, reliable and accurate data that can be utilized in planning and decision making at all levels in the society – from the simple village setting, to the highest national levels.
He said reliable and correct data is one of the important tools for strategic planning and constructive decision making.
Workshop facilitator and Local Consultant Ms. Noelyn Biliki added that Population and Development needs must be properly aligned and strengthened at the provincial planning and policy levels. “The knowledge and capacity of provincial planners and other government workers needs enhancement and strengthening,” she said.
“The team is confident that by the end of the workshop the participants are well equipped with the knowledge and understanding of how to use the available and reliable data in their provincial planning and policy formulation. We hope that you will be able to use the data to make population projections and plan for your future and the future generation,” she said.
“The population of Solomon Islands will continue to grow and the Socio Economics issues that our Societies are experiencing will continue to grow. Using population data as a tool in planning and policy formulation is fundamentally important so as to minimize the stress we exert on our environment, resources, and basic services like health and education and so on,” Ms. Biliki said.
Principal Education Officer for Rennell/Bellona Mr. Andrew Kaipua conveyed much appreciation to the Ministry Team and UNFPA for facilitating and funding the workshop that had built the capacity of the participants in terms of using available population data like the 2009 Solomon Islands National Census Data, among others for planning and decision making in their respective areas of work.
The Rennell Bellona Deputy Provincial Secretary, William Kaunga on behalf of the province sincerely thanked Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Co-ordination for going down to the province.
“We are so grateful that the Solomon Islands Government and UNFPA have seen it fit to bring the workshop to Tingoa our Provincial Head Quarter. We have learnt much from the team and can now be able to utilize the available population data when it comes to planning in our respective sectors,” he said.
“This workshop is an eye opener and the first of its kind for most of us. With the data from various institutions you have provided we are now more determined to strengthen our linkage and deliver quality services to our people”, Mr Kaunga added.
The workshop brought into light some very important population issues that need to be addressed at the provincial as well at the national level.
Three population related issues in the province were identified by participants with action plans developed to address them and were presented to the team.
The issues include; the need to address the high rates of School Drop Outs in Primary and Secondary Schools, the need to establish Senior Secondary Schools in the province, and the issue of High Child Mortality rates.
Among other recommendations during the workshop is the need to take the workshop to the higher level decision makers especially targeting members of the Rennell/Bellona Provincial Assembly and Constituency Development Officers (CDOs).
The Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Co-ordination sincerely thanked UNFPA for the on-going support and the Rennell Bellona Provincial Administration for responding to the ministry’s invitation as well as the participants for a very successful workshop.