Overcoming cultural and developmental barriers to transition towards cleaner energy practices in Oceania: A pilot study in Solomon Islands

Energy practices in Oceania: A pilot study in Solomon Islands

Energy transition in the Solomon Islands faces challenges intrinsic to all Pacific Island Countries (PICs). 90% of households in the Solomon Islands do not have access to electricity (which is also expensive), and use solid fuels for cooking, resulting in household air pollution (HAP). The Solomon Islands Government has a visionary energy transition plan, including clean energy for household cooking. One fundamental challenge, however, is cultural norms that prevent uptake of clean cook-stoves (identified by: SI National Energy Policy and Strategic Plan 2018, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification).  To overcome this, the community has first to understand the importance of energy transition, accept and actively embrace it.

Almost 50% of all lower respiratory infections (LRI) in children < 5 years in SI are due to HAP, with an incidence of 774/1000 children, and 13% of deaths from LRI attributed to HAP. Not known, however, are: (i) HAP levels in individual houses and their link with the specific cooking practices, in the context of the ventilation methods used; and (ii) how to present this information to the communities, to raise awareness of the risks from HAP, and embrace change to clean energy cooking practices. People understanding the risks will be open to change practices to avoid risks, particularly mothers to protect their children.

The Solomon Islands Government Ministry of Health hosted ILAQH researchers Professor Lidia Morawska and Dr. Tom Cole-Hunter, for the local ‘kick-off’ workshop with government representatives and also a WHO regional officer

Our Project

Mr. Jimmy Hilly of the HMS assists ILAQH’s Dr Tom Cole-Hunter to install a low-cost air-quality monitor at Honiara’s international airport weather station

The aim or our project is to enable the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (HMS) to empower household members (especially women/mothers as agents of change, within households of young children) to sustainably adopt cleaner energy practices. Such practices will reduce household air pollution (HAP) and associated burden of disease from early-life and life-long exposure to it. This enablement will come through co-developing a novel air-quality educational kit.

This project is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centres of Research Excellence (CRE), The Centre for Air pollution, energy and health Research (CAR) Seed Funding Grant and NHMRC CRE CAR Postdoctoral Fellowship APP1116412, as well as the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology.

To monitor background levels of air quality in Honiara, two state-of-the-art low-cost KOALA (Knowing Our Ambient, Local Air) monitors. For more information about the KOALAs and how they operate.

Our Team

Professor Lidia Morawska, Community Chief, and Dr. Tom Cole-Hunter, during a community visit


Project Leader

  • Professor Lidia Morawska, ILAQH, QUT


  • Tom Cole-Hunter, ILAQH, QUT
  • Professor Bin Jalaludin, University of New South Wales
  • Luke Knibbs, University of Queensland
  • Jimmy Hilly, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Solomon Islands
  • Professor Paul Jagals, University of Queensland and Fiji National University
  • Nasir Hassan, World Health Organisation, Western Pacific Regional Office
  • Seon Mi Choi, UNICEF

Funding / Grants

  • NHMRC CRE, CAR Seed Funding Grant APP1116412 (2019-2020) (2019 - 2020)


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