News National Solomon Islands activist pushed for better quality of life in villages

Solomon Islands activist pushed for better quality of life in villages

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The Solomon Islands civil society activist John Roughan, who died last week, has been remembered as being passionate about spreading the benefits of development to villages.

A former co-worker and civil society stalwart Bob Pollard told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that Dr Roughan’s passion is best summed up in three words – “village, village and village”.

“John was passionate about the development of his country and he saw during the 55 years that the people living in the villages, which were the majority of the population, weren’t really getting much benefit from development here,” he said.

“He championed that theme that if his country was going to progress and develop, they had to ensure the that benefit of development goes to (the) village.”

Mr Pollard says Dr Roughan was also very concerned with the quality of life in the villages of Solomon Islands.

“He wasn’t an advocate for western commercial development but he was an advocate for improving the quality of life and sharing the benefits of the development,” he said.

Dr Roughan, 83, died after collapsing just before he was due to appear as guest of honour to launch the Development Services Exchange’s new strategic plan on October 24.

He one of the founders of DSE, the umbrella body for civil society organisations in the Solomon Islands.

He also founded the country’s largest NGO, the Solomon Islands Development Trust in 1982.

Mr Pollard says Dr Roughan’s death was very sudden and unexpected as he was in good health.

Dr Roughan was “a very important social critic” for the Solomon Islands and he spoke out regularly.

“He was somebody that was not afraid to speak up and to share his views that what was and what wasn’t working,” Mr Pollard said.

“I think John was someone who really had a good eye on what happened in the grassroots.”

Dr Roughan also served as the secretary to Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2006, under the former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

“He realised that just how difficult political life and governance was here, and how little of it really was to do (with) implementing policies and how much of it is just caught up in politics,” Mr Pollard said.

Dr Roughan arrived in Solomon Islands over 50 years ago from the US.

“He obviously fell in love with the country and gave his whole life living here and serving here for 55 years,” Mr Pollard said.