In a remote island community that is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to rising sea levels and other extreme weather events, tens of thousands of tiny, buzzing climate champions are helping to restore protective ecosystems and rebuild families’ incomes in the fight against the climate crisis.
Save the Children Solomon Islands and local tribal-based organisation Mai-Ma’asina Green Belt have launched a programme in Solomon Islands that transports honeybees from the capital Honiara into isolated rural communities in Malaita Province around 12 hours away by boat.
The project called Sustainable Community Climate Resilience through Nature-based Solutions, then trains local farmers, particularly targeting women and young people, to care for the bees and diversify their income from farming and environmentally harmful practices like logging, to producing honey that they can sell at local markets. In turn, the bees also pollinate the vital mangroves which store carbon, produce food and act as natural buffers to cyclones and storms and protect coastal areas – along with wildlife and food sources such as fish and crabs. The project is supported by Climate Resilient by Nature (CRxN), an Australian Government initiative in partnership with WWF-Australia.[i]
So far, 74 people in two communities have completed multi-day training sessions on bee-keeping, nurturing and honey production. Each community chooses 10 participants to complete the practical hands-on bee-keeper training and look after the bee start-up kits, which include hive boxes, suits, smoker and tools, given to communities to establish hives. A further two communities across the province will also receive the training and hives.
According to research from the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), Solomon Islands has the world’s second highest risk of disasters such as floods, cyclones and sea-level rise. With around two-thirds of people living within one kilometre of the coast,[ii]communities are extremely vulnerable to these kinds of extreme weather events, while impacts on crops are increasingly impacting food security in rural villages in places like Malaita Province. Following the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people returned from urban centres placing even greater pressure on food and water sources in local villages.
Local farmer and mother of six Alison, 43, who took part in one of the recent beekeeper trainings, has already lost her home due to extreme weather that is intensifying as a result of the climate crisis. She said:
“One time when I was just married into this family a strong wind blew down all the houses in our area. Our own home was blown down too. When our house collapsed everything was blown away, all the walling and windows were blown away. The floor was the only part of the house that remained.
“It sometimes rains for a week, this kills our crops because of water from heavy rain. I wonder what my kids are going to eat for their bodies and health.”
Alison was one of the 10 participants selected by her community to take part in the bee-keeper training and take charge of looking after the hives and growing the bee colonies on behalf of the community. Her four-year-old daughter Lucy also took part in some of the training to learn more about bees, climate change and children’s rights. The climate crisis is a child's rights crisis and in order to put children’s rights at the heart of climate action we must ensure that they are able to actively participate in projects that impact them.
Alison had never seen bees before and was initially scared, but by the end of the training, which included how to keep safe, she was looking forward to having a new income source and hopes to be a trainer herself one day.
“The first time I saw honeybees coming out of the box, I was very frightened. I wanted to run away; I did not want to stand close. I wanted to watch from a distance,” she said.
“With honeybee training I know if I do it well, I am able to earn money for my family."
Save the Children Solomon Islands Acting Country Director Paul Green said:
“Despite contributing very little to global carbon emissions, Solomon Islands is on the frontline of the climate crisis and the way of life that has sustained communities here for centuries is under threat.
“Make no mistake, it’s no easy task shipping thousands of honeybees into remote communities, but we must be innovative in our attempts to support communities who are most at risk.
“With the vast majority of communities living close to the coastline, a major concern is the impact of rising sea-levels, saltwater intrusion into crops, contamination of fresh water, and extreme weather patterns – all consequences of the climate crisis on food production and quality, which can be devastating for children’s lives, development and wellbeing.”
Save the Children is calling for donor countries to be ambitious in supporting developing nations, including in the Pacific Islands region, to withstand the current and future impacts of the climate crisis by providing urgent and necessary climate finance with a comprehensive focus on child rights.
Last week a joint report by Save the Children and other organisations found that just 2.4 percent of key global climate funds can be classified as supporting child-responsive activities. Meanwhile, a Save the Children report from two years ago found that children born in 2020 face significantly more extreme weather events than their grandparents.
Save the Children has had a presence in Solomon Islands since 1986 delivering essential child protection, health, education, and disaster risk reduction programmes.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or email@example.com.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- About Save the Children Solomon Islands: Save the Children has had a presence in Solomon Islands since 1986 delivering essential child protection, health, education, and disaster risk reduction programs. Save the Children works with Pacific governments, including Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, to make schools safer for children during disasters, and helps children and their families prepare for disasters and recover afterwards.
- Nature-Based Solutions was established to help restore and protect critical ecosystems like mangroves, build sustainable livelihoods and increase resilience to climate shocks. It supports communities by strengthening natural resource management and through economic empowerment for women and youth. By managing and conserving forests and mangrove ecosystems, communities will sustain their resilience to climate change impacts. Mangroves ecosystem primarily supports an abundance of biodiversity and hosts a large store of carbon deposits, and are natural buffers to cyclones and storms, protecting coastal areas from high wave energy movements and erosions.
- The bee keeping component complements both the mangrove ecosystem and the community. Bees are efficient pollinators for mangroves and will enhance mangrove restorations effort, as it produces sweet mangrove honey for the community farmers through these natural processes. The mangroves provide a home for the bee colonies which in turn supports the mangroves through pollination and restorations, whilst producing sweet honey for the farmer to sell.
- Climate Resilient by Nature (CRxN) is an Australian Government initiative, in partnership with WWF-Australia, advancing high-integrity, equitable nature-based solutions to climate change in the Indo-Pacific.
- Launched in 2021, it supports projects that work with communities to restore and protect critical ecosystems, build sustainable livelihoods and increase resilience to climate shocks.
- CRxN supports projects and research across the Indo-Pacific in countries including: Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Our partnership with Mai-Ma’asina Green Belt
- Mai-Ma’asina Green Belt is a local NGO based in the Malaita Province of Solomon Islands and consisted of over 30 tribal members. Through our partnership with MNGB Save the Children strengthens the capacity of MMGB with resources and technical assistance. The local partner identifies four-member community tribes under MMGB, and Save The Children supports with implementation of the project activities and management.
[i] CRxN supports nature-based solutions that restore and protect critical ecosystems, build sustainable livelihoods, and increase resilience to climate shocks.
[ii] Plan International, From Crisis to Classroom: understanding the effects of disasters on girls’ access to education, April 2023 from-crisis-to-classroom.pdf (plan.org.au).