Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare and French Polynesia’s Delegate for International, European and Pacific Affairs, Mr Manuel Terai met in Honiara last Friday (30 June 2017) and discussed the proposition of French Polynesia providing low-cost housing project for Solomon Islands.

The French Polynesian Delegate for International, European and Pacific Affairs said his President, Edouard Fritch tasked him to follow up on the initial discussions on the proposition the President had with Prime Minister Sogavare in Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2016.

He said French Polynesia has on offer several low-cost housing plans and one is the Individual House of two or three bedrooms that are built on stilts with concrete foundations.

Mr Terai said the walls of the Individual House can be made of timber or plywood and has been proven to withstand floods in French Polynesia.

He said French Polynesia also offers cyclone shelters that can accommodate 700 to 800 people and this is ideal for accommodating a big group of people during times of natural disasters.

Mr Terai said low-cost housing and cyclone shelters are suitable for Solomon Islands as a natural disaster-prone country, adding that Tokelau, Tuvalu and Kiribati have already expressed interest in French Polynesia’s low cost housing project.

The French Polynesia Delegate for International, European and Pacific Affairs also spoke about SWAC (Sea Water Air Conditioning)-a proven technology using deep cold water of the oceans to provide cooling solutions to coastal buildings and communities.

He said many hotels and hospitals in French Polynesia are operated by SWAC and French Polynesia can introduce this technology in Solomon Islands.

Mr Terai said the SWAC technology is economical and moreover, environmentally-friendly as it reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Sogavare in response thanked Mr Terai for following up on the low-cost housing proposition by the French Polynesia President.

He said given the seriousness by the President Fritch about the proposition, he is considering sending a Solomon Islands Government exploratory team to the French territory to look at the different low-cost housing plans available and produce a report on its findings for consideration by the Government.

Prime Minister Sogavare said such low-cost housing project is something worth looking into for Solomon Islands outer islands, adding that it has the potential of attracting funding assistance from the Green Climate Fund.

He also thanked Terai for informing of the SWAC technology which he described as an exciting technology that the Solomon Islands Government could also consider for Solomon Islands in pursuit of meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr Terai was in Honiara last week for the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) farewell celebrations.

French Polynesia and New Caledonia have recently been admitted as members of the Pacific Islands Forum. New Caledonia was also represented at the RAMSI farewell celebrations.