To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Monday, November 06, 2006

SI Household Income and Expenditure Survey findings

The Solomon Islands Minister for Finance, Honorable Gordon Darcy Lilo, officially launched the results of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) on Friday last week after cabinet had endorsed the reports.

The survey was an initiative of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Solomon Islands Statistics Development Project (SISDP) and the Government of the Solomon Islands and was jointly funded and supported by AUSAID and NZAID. It was aimed at strengthening and revitalizing the national statistical system and to ensure the regular production and release of core socio-economic statistics on a timely and regular basis crucial for policy and planning purposes.

The HIES operation was undertaken in all 9 provinces including Honiara which is the only fully urban area and the capital of Solomon Islands. The survey covered the Urban and Rural areas focusing on Honiara, other Urban Areas and the Rural Areas of the nine (9) provinces, and aimed to produce estimates at the country national and provincial levels only.

The survey targeted private households only. A sample of 4,320 households was planned for the country and about 3,822 households (88.5%) responded favorably satisfying the survey requirements.


Household Income and Expenditure

•The average annual household expenditure for the country is SBD 30 thousand. This is about SBD 600 per week for a family of 6 persons.
•The median expenditure is SBD 20 thousand, about 67% of the average value and is about SBD 400 a week. This means that half the households in Solomon Islands spent about SBD 400 in a week.
•On average, a household in the Honiara spent more than 2 times the amount spent by the households in other provinces --reflecting the general belief that the cost of living is relatively higher in Honiara.
•The average per-capita expenditure in Solomon Islands is about SBD 5,000 per year, about 94 dollars a week. The median amount is about 63 dollars per week. The HIES found that Rennell/Bellona province has the highest average per-capita expenditure of SBD 5,400 per year after Honiara which is about 11,000 dollars per year.
•Average annual expenditure on Food accounts for about 54% of average total expenditure for Solomon Islands. This is followed by average expenditures on household bills and housing rent at the national level. However, at the area level, average rent expenditure accounts for the second highest item of expenditure at 14 percent in the urban areas but is one of the lowest (1.1%) expenditure items in the rural areas.
•In all provinces apart from Honiara, food accounts for more than half the household expenditures. In Honiara, food constitutes only 35 percent of household budget.
•All provinces apart from Honiara spent close to or over half of their annual expenditures on cereals and cereal products alone. Honiara spent about 25%. The main cereal item in all provinces was RICE, followed by flour.
•The major source of income in all provinces apart from Honiara is from the value of home production. Home production here refers to the value of goods and services produced by the household to be predominantly consumed by the same household or given as gifts. Such goods like vegetables, fruits grown from gardens or fish from the sea etc. The kinds of activities that generate such value of production are typical of the rural lifestyles of households whereas in predominant urban areas like Honiara, wages & salaries is the main source of income.

Major implications on household Income and Expenditure

•The nature of household spending and the sources of income is a serious issue for any government. This will have an impact on how we curb inflation, that is the high cost of living or rising prices, reduce interest rates and assess economic policy in terms of creating an enabling environment for growth and income generation.

Household population demographics

•The estimated population for the Solomon Islands is 534 thousand. Of the total of 534 thousand people, Malaita Province recorded the highest number (140 thousand) consisting about 26% of total population. This is followed by Guadalcanal Province (84 thousand), Western (82 thousand), Honiara (69 thousand), Makira (50 thousand), Choiseul (31 thousand), Central (24 thousand), Temotu (24 thousand), Isabel (24 thousand) and Rennell-Bellona recording the least population at slightly over 4 thousand.
•The total population consist of 84% of people living in the rural areas and 16% in the urban areas.
•Slightly over 1/3 of the total population fall in the age group less than 15 years of age.
•Age dependency ratio in Urban is 55, Rural 76, and the country 72. This means that in Solomon Islands some 72 persons were dependent on every 100 persons in the working age group for economic support.
•Average household size is 6 persons.
•The percentage of population 15 years & over is the potentially economically active population but close to half (47%) of these age group have attained primary level education only.

Major Implications on household demographic characteristics

•Solomon Islands has a rapidly growing population. This will have an impact on GDP per capita, distribution of income and put pressure on food supply policies, Health and Education;
•Solomon Islands has a very young population most of whom will move into the working age and the labour force in the next few years. This will impact on employment and unemployment issues, and education and put pressure on job creation;
•The findings that the majority (84%) of our people living in the rural areas show that the Government policy on rural development is in the right tract.
•The age dependency is high and this is putting enormous pressure on those who are in the working age and with an average of 6 people living in one house, this may affect spending, food distribution etc., and shows overcrowding which may led to health problems in the future if this increases.
•Educational attainment needs to be improved so many of our active population 15 years and above receive certificates, diplomas and pursue higher degrees. This is currently not the case.


•In Solomon Islands close to half the total households live in traditional type housing which reflects the majority of the people living in rural areas-- Even in Honiara which is the only fully urban area about 13% of households live in traditional type housing.
•Majority of households in the county use ‘open fire’ as their main source of energy for Cooking. In Honiara about 43% of households use ‘open fire’.
•Majority of households apart from Honiara use ‘Kerosene or spirit lamp’ as the main source of Lighting. In Honiara- over half the households use electricity supply!
•In regard to the source of drinking and cooking water used by households, it was recorded that the main source in Western, Isabel, Central and Malaita Provinces is piped supply outside the neighborhood. In Choiseul, Guadalcanal and Makira Provinces, drinking and cooking water is sourced from –river/lake or creek. In Rennell-Bellona and Temotu the main source is from rain water tanks and in Honiara the main source is piped into household/yard.

Major Implications on housing

•The issue of proper housing, accommodation and shelter is a basic right and with the current household size this will drastically affect housing and urbanization and the issue of rural-urban migration.
•Without proper sources of drinking water, lighting and cooking, our people are going to face drastic health and welfare problems in the future.

Source: Government Communications Unit

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