A research team, led by CUR member Prof. Darryn McEvoy, has just returned from a week-long field trip to Honiara, Solomon Islands.
As well as high-level meetings with the Australian High Commission and the Vice Chancellor of Solomon Islands National University (SINU), the intention of the trip was to set up a local implementation team to deliver climate actions as part of the Climate Resilient Honiara project.
Prof. McEvoy said, “a local project team (consisting of World Vision, PacSol consultancy, SINU, and the UN-Habitat local office) will deliver water tanks, drainage upgrades using nature-based solutions, and local disaster planning training in five vulnerable informal settlements. RMIT will provide the necessary scientific support”.
During the field visit, the project team either led, or contributed to, three important workshops with different stakeholders. The first of these was a train-the-trainer workshop on disaster resilient housing held on the SINU campus and led by CUR researcher Dr Mittul Vahanvati.
The training was based on the inclusive and disaster resilient shelter guide developed for Habitat for Humanity. “By training staff from World Vision and SINU, key messages of housing resilience best practice can then be conveyed to community members by the local team as they deliver local actions”, Dr Vahanvati said
The RMIT research team were also involved with the formal launch of the Solomon Islands National Urban Policy. This event was organised by the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Survey, and involved attendees from Honiara and the provinces. Dr Vahanvati and Prof. Usha Iyer-Raniga were invited to present the housing session on behalf of RMIT.
The final workshop was a soft launch of the climate comics at the Honiara Youth Council, and to hand over printed copies to the local young artists, as well as fliers with QR codes so they can share their comics with their local networks. The experience of producing their own comics was new to all the artists and one they very much appreciated.
Casper Hairiu, who illustrated one of the comics, said “It was a great achievement in my art life. Thank you so much for the organisers and all the people making this to happen. Thank you also for promotions and looking forward to future projects like this. Tagio tumas everyone!”
Another artist, Indie Rowena Morgan, also recalled how much she enjoyed working on the comic, “This comic was a joy to work on as it brought back lots of memories of my childhood with the scenes, which I used a lot of inspiration from to draw it out. Everything you see from the characters to the background has been taken or inspired by my personal life and it’s a joy to see it in this comic, like a piece of my history come to life.”
The next stage of the Climate Resilient Honiara project is to further develop the academic relationship with SINU. To progress this, Prof. Iyer-Raniga says, “RMIT will be hosting two senior academics from SINU early in 2024 to discuss further collaboration, strength local academic capacity, and explore the opportunities for staff and student exchanges”.