Located just south of the equator and to the East of PNG, the Solomon Islands are a group of 992 islands that stretch over 900 miles and cover an area of 249,000 sq nautical miles.
Only 347 of the islands are inhabited and the majority of those have no power or communications.
A recent two year period of ethnic tension resulted in the loss of most government services and infrastructure throughout the region.
In 2003, an AUS Aid project was established to provide HF communications to health centres on the islands. In addition to the provision of equipment, the project required installation at remote locations throughout the islands. Coordinating and conducting the installations in the current political and economic climate was always going to be a challenge.
We knew we had the right equipment for the job but experience in similar environments throughout the world had shown that the choice of personnel would be critical to the success of the project.
Barrett Communications contracted Peter Thomas to conduct the installations. Peter's previous experience in his capacity as ADF Communications Advisor to the Royal Solomon Islands Police proved invaluable throughout the installation process.
The first phase of the project, conducted over four months, saw the installation of a control station in the health offices in Honiara and solar powered radio stations installed in 35 remote rural health centres.
Phase two, completed recently, saw a further 31 remote rural health and nurse aid centres fitted with Barrett Communications equipment. Phase three, due to commence early 2005 will supply and install equipment for a further 79 rural health centres.