Solomon Islands-Disaster Risk Reduction

A project I documented in the Solomon Islands last year for Caritas Australia on Disaster Risk Reduction has just won the UN’s inaugural Pacific Innovation and Leadership Award for Resilience. Well done to all involved..! To quote the press release, ‘the award encourages efforts in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to develop innovative approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Pacific.’

The story I did focused on Martina, the teacher who runs the Nursery Rhyme Program. Using well-known tunes and simple lyrics, children learn what to do in the event of potential disasters. “Nursery rhymes break down the fear associated with natural disasters, and also help children memorise the rhymes and the emergency response,” said Martina. “They enjoy the singing.”

Considering the devastating floods that hit the capital Honiara in April this year and the ever increasing intensity and regularity of  these events, the program is essential. The Australian office was in contact with the schools straight after the floods and all children were accounted for.

It was my first time in the South Pacific and it lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Rich colours, beautiful oceans, lush green jungles and amazing people…..

The sea is a popular part of island life where people to go eat, drink and children play. Many villagers are settled close to the sea which are at risk of tsunamis and tidal surges with children being especially vulnerable during these events.


Solomon Islands – Disaster Risk Management Project from Richard Wainwright on Vimeo.


Primary school teacher Martina Kuibae (28) teaching songs and actions about what to do in a natural disaster whilst teaching the Natural Disaster Risk Management program run by Caritas Australia

Martina and her students role play running up hills to escape a flood.

Martina writing the words of a nursery rhyme about what to do in a Tsunami.

Children singing nursery rhymes about what to do in an emergency.

Martina helping (L-R) Feritas, Rose & Emily with drawing what they feel about natural disasters

A student draws a flood scene.

Children singing and dancing along to songs, taught by Primary school teacher Martina Kuibae (28), about what to do in a natural disaster during a Natural Disaster Risk Management program run by Caritas Australia

Children play in the river that runs through Tuvaruhu village in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The river is often a focal point of village life where people wash, play and fish. The rivers flood regularly and present a danger to many inhabitants, especially children.

The majority of people in the Solomon Islands live a subsistence life, fishing and growing their own food on plots of land by their houses and make some money by selling their produce to local markets.

A general scene overlooking Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. Many of the houses are built on crowded hill sides from local materials making them susceptible to landslides during times of flooding, cyclones and earthquakes.

A child playing on Kakabona Beach in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.