The Solomon Islands comprises around half a million people from nearly a hundred different language and cultural groups. Around 80 per cent of the population depends mainly on subsistence agriculture and many adults have only a few years of primary schooling. Since attaining independence in 1978, Solomon Islands has been governed by a national parliament based on the Westminster system. There are currently 50 elected members to represent nine provinces and the capital, Honiara. Elected provincial governments are responsible for local government, while at the community level, chiefs and elders still make many of the decisions.
Corruption and poor management have impaired the performance of both national and provincial governments and many people do not have access to basic infrastructure or economic opportunities. In 2007 32 per cent of People's Survey respondents said national government performance in improving services and the economy was not good, and 44 per cent said provincial government's performance was not good (RAMSI, 2007). In 2008 35 per cent said national government was not performing well in providing basic services and 51 per cent said provincial government was not performing well (RAMSI, 2008). In 2009 and 2010 71 per cent and 60 per cent respectively said their MP had not visited their community in the past year (RAMSI, 2009 and 2010).