When Jack Kauta learnt that the Kakara Community High School in West Kwara’ae in the Malaita Province of Solomon Islands would be constructing a double-storey building for its new classrooms, he decided to explore the possibility of adding a wheelchair ramp to the design of this project to ensure access for people and children living with disabilities.
Mr Kauta’s increased awareness about the rights and needs of people with disabilities was made possible through a training he attended with the Auki Urban Disability Community Alliance (AUDCA) in November, 2019. The workshop saw the participation from many community leaders in the Malaita Province and particularly focused on informing them about the rights of people with disabilities with the intention of forming linkages with these communities.
AUDCA is one of the grantees of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) programme which aims to build advocacy capacity among Pacific Civil Society Organisations engaged with human rights issues. The funding for the PPAC programme comes from the Government of Sweden.
A wheelchair ramp, according to Mr Kauta, was not part of the initial design of the school building. However, he was able to convince the contractors and engineers of the need to incorporate it into the project and seek funding from donors to have that built as part of the new extension.
The Kakara Community High School officially opened their new building, complete with a wheelchair ramp on 28 February, 2020.
For Edwin Mae, Chairman of the Kwaniketo community, the workshop provided valuable insights into the rights of people with disabilities as well as the types of services that were available as part of AUDCA’s Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme, which led to four referrals from his community. These four people were able to receive wheelchair replacements as well as other medical supplies.
The Ngalisogore community is one of the main target communities of AUDCA and the community Chairman Mr Randol highlighted how he was able to utilize the knowledge gained from the workshop in ensuring a wheelchair ramp was part of the design of a bridge built in his community by the World Bank’s Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement (CAUSE) project.
“With my newfound knowledge about the rights of people with disabilities after the workshop by AUDCA, I was able to approach the World Bank project to include a wheelchair ramp as part of the design of a bridge they were building in my community,” he said.
Mr Randol was successful in his approach and in March this year, the bridge was completed with ramps included in the pedestrian walkway to ensure inclusiveness and accessibility for people with disabilities.
AUDCA received technical support in advocacy and small grants from PPAC and through this support Mr Randol was able to advocate to the World Bank to include a ramp on the bridge walkway.
AUDCA has been a recipient of funding from PPAC since 2018.
Another PPAC grantee in Solomon Islands, the Auki Market Vendors Association’s (AMVA) campaign on waste management in association with the Malaita Provincial Government has created positive changes within the Auki market.
This collaboration led to funding provided by the provincial government towards the maintenance of the market.
The provincial government also employed an AMVA member to conduct daily awareness and provide support to the market manager in looking after the market to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
The market manager shared that having an assistant eased a lot of the tasks that he is expected to carry out on a daily basis.
Other initiatives by the provincial government in collaboration with AMVA include the provision of additional rubbish bins to the market and the Auki town area as well as regular rubbish collection services twice a week.
The AMVA also carried out trainings with other stakeholders in Auki which included a fisheries officer from the Fisheries Member’s Association, who then shared the lessons from this training with his members on practical ways to display and store fish as well as hygienic ways of cleaning fish and proper disposal of gutted remains.
The outcome of this training is evident in the overall improvement seen in the fish market especially with market vendors now using proper tables to display fish for sale rather than leaving them on the market floor.
Additionally, through AMVA’s intervention, the waste management officer within the Environmental Health Division shared that he is now able to understand the significance of his role and how to better fulfill it.