Reconstructing a Fragile State: Institutional Strengthening of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in Solomon Islands

Samson Maeniuta Rihuoha

Emerging from the ethnic tensions that tore the Solomon Islands apart from 1998 to 2003, the country’s Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) faced a number of serious challenges. Given the vast needs in the country it was also called upon to take a leading role in post-conflict reconstruction and providing some of the foundations for economic renewal. This case study examines how capacity issues were addressed within MID in the post-conflict period and how the sense of crisis which prevailed in the country opened up opportunities to explore new institutional arrangements and ways of addressing infrastructure issues.

The Ministry of Infrastructure Development’s (MID) capacity declined significantly after independence, because of localization, rightsizing of the public service, and the impact of the ethnic tensions. However, the range of capacity development interventions under the Institutional Strengthening of Ministry of Infrastructure Development (ISMID) has provided the ministry the opportunity to restructure, take on new resources and encourage the private sector to grow and take on an enhanced role in infrastructure service delivery. The national transport plan (NTP) and the national transport fund (NTF) have put MID in a better financial position by providing a framework that has given funding agencies confidence to invest in the sector over the short to medium term. NTF also gives the government a new mechanism that should provide secure funding for required services over the longer term.

Through these and other changes, MID’s institutional capacity has been enhanced and roles have been clarified. To support these new roles and activities, the capacities of relevant officers have been strengthened through workshops and training in Australia and Solomon Islands. However, ongoing professional development of MID officers and reinforcing of new systems and policies will be necessary.

Based on MID’s experience with ISMID, a number of lessons can be drawn, which can help understand how capacity can be developed, or used more effectively, particularly in a postconflict situation, such as Solomon Islands in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Year of publication: 
ADB Capacity Development in the Pacific
Themes and sectors: 
Public administration
Case story length: 
32 pages

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