Kirakira

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Kirakira
Location on Makira Island
Location on Makira Island
Kirakira is located in Solomon Islands
Kirakira
Kirakira
Location in the Solomon Islands
Coordinates: 10°27′S 161°55′E / 10.450°S 161.917°E / -10.450; 161.917
Country  Solomon Islands
Province Makira-Ulawa
Island Makira
Elevation 152 m (499 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Total 2,461

Kirakira the provincial capital of the Makira-Ulawa Province in the Solomon Islands.[1][2] Kirakira is located on the north coast of Makira (formerly San Cristobal), the largest island of the province. It has roads running 18 kilometres (11 mi) east to the Warihito River and 100 kilometres (62 mi) west to Maro'u Bay.[3]

The Kirakira Airport is served by Solomon Airlines, which provides flights to Honiara and other destinations.[4] The Airport is a grass strip and receives flights 4 times per week. Solomon Airlines, the national carrier, flies in and out of Kira Kira. It is a 45-minute flight from Honiara. Planes landing at the Airport vary in size from a 6-seat "Island-Hopper" to a 36 Seat "Dash 8" twin propeller jet. If there is too much rain, the airstrip can be too muddy to allow the planes to safely land.

This is a photograph of the runway at Kirakira airport.

The capital, KiraKira, is a small township of approximately 3500 people. The premier, Mr Thomas Weipe, is the local Makira-Ulawa representative for Solomon Islands parliament. His office is in KiraKira. KiraKira does have electricity and running water. The electricity is produced by a diesel generator. There are often periods where there is no power each day for 1–2 hours while the generator is maintained. The town is nestled on the bay opposite the airport. Most people live in traditional Solomon Island houses. There is mobile phone coverage in KiraKira that allows for talk and text communication but not mobile Internet services. The Internet can usually only be accessed at the post office. Despite an annual rainfall in excess of 3 metres, there are challenges associated with securing the water supply for the town. A centerpiece for the community is a full sized soccer oval. You will find the young men having a social game of soccer each afternoon on the oval. 90% of the population on the Island is Christian with various denominations including Roman Catholic, South Pacific Christian and 7th day Adventist churches found in the community. The majority of the population lives in rugged terrain in villages on the slopes of the mountains which are covered in dense jungle and rise along the spine of Makira Island.

This photograph was taken from the Main Street in Kirakira, close to Kirakira Hospital.

There are a range of languages and dialects spoken in Kirakira. Pidgin English is spoken by the local Islanders. English is the official language used by the staff at the hospital and in the schools.

Education[edit]

There are primary and secondary schools in KiraKira. There is compulsory Primary School Education in Kirakira. There is a large Government Boarding School on Makira Island that takes students to year 12 from all over Solomon Islands. Students sleep in bunk beds in dormitories that hold about 40 students. The fees at Government funded boarding schools are modest but still a challenge for Solomon Islanders. Approximately $2000SBD(Approximately US$250) for Board and Tuition for a year at a public Boarding School in Solomon Islands. There is no formal tertiary or trade education in Kirakira. Students must leave the Island to gain further qualifications after leaving school.

Economy[edit]

Government Salaries for positions in Solomon Islands are very low in comparison to advanced economies. A School Principal or Medical Doctor are likely to be earning around $80,000 SBD per annum(About US$10,000)and the nursing and other staff in the hospital are earning much less. The cost of living however is very high compared to the Salaries earned. In Kirakira a Can of soft drink will cost $8–10 SBD and a 1.5-litre bottle of water will cost $12 SBD. Petrol is very expensive in Solomon Islands. It Costs around $90 SBD($11 USD) per US Gallon. The average person in Solomon Islands will not have many possessions-car ownership is an impossible aspiration. The majority of the economy is non-monetary with approximately 80% of the population engaged in subsistence farming. Fishing is another industry. Fresh fish can be found each morning, along with fruit and vegetables, which are sold from the markets which are located on the bay in the center of KiraKira.

This photograph was taken at a beach at Kirakira, where the local markets are usually held every day.

The diet available in KiraKira is traditional and this may have ensured that the problem of obesity, that is very common in other Melanesian communities, is not as big a problem yet.

A photograph of starfruit which, once ripe, often graced the breakfast table at Freshwinds Guesthouse.

There is concern that the diet is changing, with more cheap processed foods, such as "two-minute noodles" becoming available in the stores, and this might lead to the diabetic epidemic that is present across much of the Western Pacific, reaching and affecting the people of Kira Kira.

Logging has been a controversial industry on KiraKira, with concerns expressed in the local community, that natural resources were being harvested without any demonstrable benefit being returned to the local community. RAMSI(Regional Assistance Mission for Solomon Islands) have built a number of new homes for the resident police force near the airport. The roads are not sealed and found only along the northern coastline of Makira Island on either side of KiraKira. The aid money from RAMSI has seen the construction of several new bridges which has made transport to KiraKira more accessible. There are only government owned motor vehicles on Makira Island. There is a "bus" service which consists of a flat top truck, that travels back and forth along the road from dawn to dusk, which will stop and give passengers a lift(As long as they are willing to hang on tight for the roads are bumpy!). The cost of a bus ride is $10SBD, but if you are not a local, they may charge you a little bit more.

Kirakira is most known within Solomon Islands for its bananas. There are over 100 different varieties of banana. There are cooking, eating, green, yellow, fat, short and skinny bananas. A brief walk around any market place will give the chance to try and taste a wonderful fresh banana. The community is recognising the importance of the banana to Makira Island by holding the first banana festival.

Tourism[edit]

Kirakira is "Off the beaten track" and receives very few visitors.

This photograph was taken one evening following the river on the track to the local beach in Kirakira.
A photograph taken at the beach at Kirakira.

There is a strong desire to develop tourism as a much need source of sustainable revenue for the Kirakira community.

This photograph was taken at sunset at the local beach in Kirakira.

There are unique surfing breaks on Makira Island with its black beaches and wonderful snorkelling particularly in the Islands of just off Kirakira.

This photograph was taken at the local beach at Kirakira at sunset, when the rain was rolling in for another evening.

There are sandy beaches surrounded by opalescent waters at the "Three Sisters" Island group and Ugi Island.

Approaching Three Sisters Island.

These waters are dotted with coral reefs where one can spend hours exploring and finding an exhilarating variety and species of tropical fish. The Islands can be accessed by an outboard motor boat that takes about 45–60 minutes to reach from Kirakira harbour. It makes a perfect day trip for a group of 3–6 people. The cost of Boat Hire, A couple of Guides and Petrol for a Day Trip is around $1500–1800 SBD. If you have a group of 4–6 people and take along some fresh fruit and coconuts for lunch, this can make for an amazing daytrip for about US$50 per person. If you are interested in flora and fauna then there are many exciting bird-watching trails that you can find.

Many beautiful flowers are seen in local gardens in Kirakira; this is one such example.
One of the many beautiful flowers in Kirakira that the local people often put in arrangements.

There are also some very interesting villages to visit. Perhaps most interesting of all is the fact that in the 21st century people are still living a traditional village based life. In this remote province people still predominantly live in houses built with thatched palm fronds.

This is a photograph of some of the local houses in Kirakira, right next to the beach.

The society is filled with local Kastoms that is refreshingly untouched by the busyness of the rest of the world.

If you are visiting Kirakira you do need to take some precautions to minimise the risk of catching Malaria. These include taking appropriate chemoprophylaxis(Either daily doxycycline or weekly Chloroquinine) and reducing your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves shirts, using insect repellant at dusk and sleeping under a mosquito net wherever possible. You should be wary about swimming in inland river systems as there are saltwater crocodiles and there have been many instances of swimmers being bitten. Tourists and visiting students need to know that there is no TV, no Facebook and for those who are workaholics; no email access. There is reasonable mobile phone access in Kirakira and you can send a short SMS. The most relaxing part of any visit to Kirakira is that you are free from the continuous cycle of news and being accessible to your work that invades all aspects of life in the more developed world. A few weeks spent in Kirakira will do wonders for your conversation skills at night time with your fellow travellers or hosts and you just might manage to read a book or two and lower you blood pressure!

In an exciting development for the local community, Kirakira is going to hold the first banana festival in the first week of June.It is hoped the publicity from this event might encourage more people to be brave enough to travel and experience the unique community in Kirakira.

Health Care[edit]

There is a small 30 bed hospital in KiraKira.

The front entrance of Kirakira Hospital at sunset.

There is only one full-time government employed doctor based at the hospital, Dr Arnold Nguduame. He is supported by a team of about 40 dedicated nursing staff. There are two staff on a 2-year exchange program from Japan, that includes, Yasuko Chiba a registered nurse and Takuya Shizume, a physiotherapist. With very limited resources the hospital provides very effective health care to the community. Children have access to a comprehensive immunisation schedule and there are midwives who provide antenatal care and assist with deliveries. There is the capacity to manage infectious diseases such as TB and Malaria, which are common in KiraKira, with access to the appropriate medications to treat these infectious illnesses. Malaria remains an endemic problem on Kira Kira. Over the summer of 2013/2014, approximately 75% of confirmed malaria cases were due to Plasmodium vivax and 25% of cases were due to the more dangerous Plasmodium falciparum.

The hospital does have plain radiography and an ultrasound machine and there is access to a very limited number of blood tests. The hospital's pharmacy has good supplies of antibiotics, anti-malarials and a limited supply of analgesics and cardiorespiratory medications. There are oxygen cylinders. Ketamine sedation is available and allows for the doctor on the Island to do quite a range of minor procedures such as drainage of abscesses and setting of simple fractures is available in KiraKira. There is an operating theatre. Complex cases are referred on to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara and can be transported on one of the four commercial flights that leaves the island each week.The Patients that present for care will often have been bought by their family for a medical consultation after trekking for two or three days to see the doctor. The most common cause of trauma in Kirakira is falling from a Coconut tree. From a young age children and men climb coconut trees to try and harvest a few coconuts or simply because they are thirsty and would like a drink. They are often 5 or 6 metres above the ground and when they fall unfortunately it is the cause of many broken bones.

The population of Makira province is growing rapidly because of a very high birth rate. Each woman usually has an average of 6 children with a very high teenage pregnancy rate. There are efforts by the Health Service to encourage women after their 4th child to consider having a tubal ligation or for their husbands to have a vasectomy. There are also efforts to try and provide better sec education for the young girls to try and reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. There is still much to be done to try to help the people of Makira province make progress towards the Millennium Goals for Maternal and Child Health. Recently, a grant from AusAide allowed for completion of an eye clinic facility at the hospital. It was opened by Mr Andrew Byrnes, the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, on 28 February 2014.

Sadly there are some conditions, readily treated in developed nations, such as renal failure and cancer, for which there is no treatment available in KiraKira.

This photograph was taken one evening looking from the front entrance of Kirakira Hospital.

Bond University in Kirakira[edit]

Since the beginning of 2013, Australian final year medical students have been completing placements on KiraKira from Bond University. Students have been placed in groups of 4 for a period of one month in KiraKira. Students have been welcomed as a much needed boost to the local health workforce and have assisted the doctor and the nursing staff with delivering health care to the people of KiraKira and Makira province. Over the last 18 months almost 50 final year medical students have completed a placement in KiraKira. The medical students and Bond University staff have stayed at the Freshwinds GuestHaus in KiraKira.

This photograph of one of the many butterflies in Kirakira was taken at the Freshwinds Guesthouse.

This place provides single rooms with an ensuite and Dinner and Breakfast for about $75 AUD per night and is very comfortable. Most recently students from other faculties of Bond University have visited KiraKira and completed repairs of the Hospital's pharmacy and repainted the birthing suite, with a plan that further aide efforts and improvements will follow in 2014. A group of Bond University students have formed a charity called, "IUMETOGEDA" which is pidgin English for let's work together. The group have already raised several thousand dollars for the community of KiraKira and plan to expand on the good work that has been done by the students to date.

In 2014, Health Workforce Australia awarded a grant to Bond University to establish a multi-disciplinary clinical placement site in Kirakira. In the second half of the year the Medical Students will be joined by Doctor of Physiotherapy,Public Health Nutrition and Masters of Project management students who will all be working together to support the local community in Kirakira. It is hoped that this will be long term clinical placement opportunity for students at Bond University and that the community will benefit from the University's presence and support.

More recently, with the addition of New Colombo Funding, each clinical rotation of medical students, has been encouraged to complete important baseline clinical data. In April 2017 the most recent group of Bond University Medical Students, including Niro,Amila,Kunaal and Lloyd, have confirmed that the perinatal mortality rate remains stubbornly high at 31 per 1000 liveborn infants. Other research that has come from medical students includes research about the dangers of trauma to children from falling from coconut trees and the high rate of asymptomatic bacteruria amongst pregnant women in Kirakira. It is planned to collect data about Malaria, TB and Diabetes across 2017 with a view to developing programs to help improve health indicators in Kirakira.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Kirakira
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31
(87)
31
(87)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
29
(85)
29
(85)
29
(85)
30
(86)
30
(86)
31
(87)
30
(86)
Average low °C (°F) 23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(71)
22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
22
(72)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 348
(13.7)
351
(13.8)
380
(15)
312
(12.3)
290
(11.4)
236
(9.3)
338
(13.3)
343
(13.5)
259
(10.2)
251
(9.9)
236
(9.3)
292
(11.5)
3,637
(143.2)
Source: Weatherbase[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hugh Laracy, Sam Alasia (1 December 1989). Ples Blong Iumi: Solomon Islands, the past four thousand years. South Pacific Books Ltd. p. 158. ISBN 978-982-02-0027-2. 
  2. ^ "Makira and Ulawa Province". Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau. 
  3. ^ Stanley, David (2004). Moon Handbooks: South Pacific (8 ed.). Avalon Travel. pp. 1034–1035. ISBN 978-1-56691-411-6. OCLC 224404243. 
  4. ^ "Domestic Route Map". Solomon Airlines. Archived from the original on 27 January 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007. 
  5. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Kirakira, Solomon Islands". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on 24 November 2011.

Coordinates: 10°27′S 161°55′E / 10.450°S 161.917°E / -10.450; 161.917