Solomon Islands - Overview

The Solomon Islands system of DRM is founded upon the National Disaster Council Act 1989 which is supplemented by the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) 2018. This legislation provides from the creation of the National Disaster Council (NDC) and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) for the Solomon Islands. The Act also places responsibility for Disaster [Risk] Management within the responsibility of the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology. The NDC comprises the Permanent Secretaries (PS) of each key Ministry with the remainder sitting as associate members. It is chaired by the PS of the Ministry responsible for DRM (The Ministry of the Environment). This council provides strategic oversight of DRM and provides advice to cabinet.


Beneath the NDC sit three committees (comprising the Under Secretaries of the relevant Departments) which develop pre-disaster arrangements and provide management in the event of a disaster. The National Disaster Operation Committee (N-DOC) is chaired by the Director of the DMO and is responsible for preparedness and response arrangements. During a disaster event, it coordinates the response alongside Provincial and local representatives. In particular the N-DOC is responsible for the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the appointment of a Disaster Coordinator. The N-DOC is also responsible for creating Sector Committees to assist it in delivering its role.


The Recovery Co-ordination Committee (RCC) sits alongside N-DOC. This body, chaired by the Permanent Secretary (or Under Secretary) of the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC), mirrors the role of the N-DOC in relation to recovery, although UN and NGO representatives may also be included in its membership. In addition to planning for and managing recovery, the RCC is responsible for developing a funding plan for recovery, including re-allocation of sectoral budgets and co-ordination with international and sectoral partners. The national RCC is also responsible for creating sectoral and provincial RCC committees. A third NDC Climate and Risk Resilience Committee was established in the NDMP, which is to be responsible for addressing hazards and the reduction of disaster and climate risk within social and development planning processes and practices.


Although the Solomon Islands NDMO is the key institution for the management of DRM at the state level, the Provinces play a significant role. Each Province operates a Provincial Disaster a Committee (PDC), chaired by the Provincial Secretary (the national representative in the Province) and operating through sub-committees which mirror the national structure. Local Ward and Village committees are expected to operate alongside these Provincial bodies. As at the national level these committees undertake a management role during a disaster event with PDC’s operating under the overall direction of N-DOC.
The Solomon Islands is a Parliamentary democracy and Commonwealth Realm with the monarch of the United Kingdom as the head of state. In practice, the functions of the monarch are performed by the Governor-General which, although formally possessing a number of important reserve powers, is primarily a symbolic position. The constitution follows a traditional “Westminster” model, with the Prime Minister being elected by the 50-member unicameral Parliament. Cabinet Ministers (and the Deputy Prime Minister) are nominated by the Prime Minister. All Ministers (including the Prime Minister) are formally appointed by the Governor-General. The weakness of political parties in the Solomon Islands means that changes of government are frequent.


The nine provinces of the Solomon Islands exercise a significant level of autonomy within the system, to the extent that it is often describe as “quasi-federal”. Each province operates under a directly elected assembly and a provincial premier who is elected from it and responsible to it. Honiara has a separate system of local city government. Beneath the Provincial level a village level provides community governance. Although local and Provincial governments have significant responsibilities which are relevant to Disaster Risk Management, they suffer from chronic under funding, due to a lack of viable sources of revenue (particularly for the Provinces). In 2015/16 only 2.4% of government expenditure was undertaken by the Provincial/City governments.


At the time of writing the 1978 Constitution (as amended) remains the basis of government in the Solomon Islands. However, a draft federal constitution was approved in 2018 and awaits adoption and implementation.