The Solomon Islands are located east of Papua New Guinea and are made up of over 990 islands with a total land area of 27,990 km and an ocean area within an exclusive economic zone of 1.34m km2. The estimate of the population is around 482,000 (2006). The Solomon Islands has a recent history of conflict that broke out in the period of the "tensions" in 1999-2003 and in the riots in April 2006. A weak democratic system compounded by endemic corruption and a youthful population that is poorly educated and lacks economic opportunities are the causes of this fragility.
A regional force (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI) has played a prominent role in restoring the rule of law, improving governance and introducing economic reforms since July 2003, but there is still much to do. While appreciated for maintaining law and order, RAMSI has been perceived by some as taking control of key institutions, and setting the framework for development.
On the economic front, recovery has continued since 2003, an annual growth rate is at around 2.8%, and GDP/capita at €453, but the economy is heavily dependent on unsustainable logging (resources risk to be depleted very soon according to the International Monetary Fund) and relatively massive donor support.
The response to the current country situation reflects the new government's clear direction towards rural development and their expressed need to empower rural peoples. This is consistent with past policies and current European Commission country development objectives, which are primarily directed towards poverty reduction, education and capacity building.
Under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) the focal sector are sustainable rural development with attention to capacity building. The indicative allocation for the focal sector is €11,220,000. The interventions in the focal sector are fully consistent with the Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy (ARDS), and will reinforce and support the second phase of the Solomon Islands Rural Development Programme. Support for urban youth issues, specific support to non-state actors and trade capacity building (including trade facilitation and promotion) will be provided as appropriate in keeping with regional programmes and increasing needs in these sectors.
Cross cutting issues taken into consideration in the focal sector include environmental, HIV/Aids and gender issues through supporting and strengthening the position and role of women and disadvantaged people. Particular attention is paid to links with governance issues in the exploitation of natural resources, decentralisation and capacity building for provincial administrations and employment in rural areas in conjunction with technical and vocational education and training. The indicative allocation for other programs in the non focal sector is €1,980,000, which includes support to the National Authorising Officer and a Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF).