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Working with communities to improve the sustainable management of Honiara’s water catchment areas

A focus group discussion with 7 participants around a table on sandy ground in Kaware, being facilitated by Dr Matt Allen

Our Principal Consultant, Dr Matt Allen, has just returned from two weeks in Solomon Islands where he is leading the social component of an Asian Development Bank funded water catchment management project that is being implemented by Solomon Water. Sustineo is partnering with Nakau as the project lead and Live and Learn Solomon Islands to support the design and implementation of activities aimed at improving the sustainable management of several water catchment areas, which account for a significant proportion of Honiara’s water supply.

The consistent supply of high-quality water from these catchment areas is increasingly threatened by unsustainable land use practices, particularly logging and timber milling activities. The overall objective of the water catchment management project is to work with landowning communities to plan and implement activities that will sustain water quality, and provide alternative livelihood opportunities and other social benefits.

Solomon Water and the project partners recognise the critical importance of partnering with landowning communities to co-design sustainable approaches to catchment management that are respectful of both customary resource ownership rights and the livelihoods of landowning communities. Following the high-level stakeholder analysis that Sustineo led earlier in the year, the current phase of the social assessment is focused on community-level engagements aimed at developing a deeper understanding of how communities are currently using the catchment areas, their livelihoods and community development needs, their existing governance arrangements, and their appetite to collaborate in the design and implementation of catchment management activities.

A focus group discussion in Kaware, facilitated by Dr Matt Allen (L)

During the recent field mission, the social assessment team – which also included Dr Gordon Nanau from the University of the South Pacific – conducted in-depth interviews with a range of stakeholders, including tribal leaders, land trustees, church leaders, and elected representatives. Matt also led a data collection training session, after which the team conducted focus group discussions and key informant interviews in one of the catchment landowning communities.

The in-country team will continue data collection and community engagement activities throughout July, August, and September. The findings of the social assessment will be integrated with those of the technical assessments that are being conducted concurrently to lay the foundation for the co-design of community-based sustainable catchment management activities.

If social research work sparks your interest or you want to discuss this project, contact Dr Matt Allen: