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The Concept of Development in Ulawa in Solomon Islands and its Implications for National Development Policy and Planning

'Social development' and 'economic development' are complex concepts, concepts that may be interpreted very differently in different contexts and at different times. Not only may the processes involved be different in different contexts, so too may be the criteria by which success is judged. It is argued here that successive Solomon Islands governments have striven for social and economic development without taking full account of the real nature of Solomon Islands society. What is needed is national development policy, planning and implementation that arise out of, and take fully into account, the historical, geographic and cultural context of Solomon Islands. On the whole, the socio-economic structure of Solomon Islands society is currently underpinned by a tri-partite hierarchy in which, for the majority of Solomon Islanders, kastom (traditional beliefs and practices) and church (the beliefs and practices endorsed by the church) take precedence over the state as legitimate forms of authority. This inevitably poses problems for state-led development. If socio-economic development activities are to be successful in achieving a better quality of life for all Solomon Islanders, including those who live in rural areas, they must take full account of the role of kastom and church in the lives of the people. This must include an understanding of the differing concepts of development of people in different areas of the country such as those of Ulawa islanders that are discussed here. The thesis begins with an introduction to the research (Chapter 1) in which the theoretical framework is located broadly within the postmodern paradigm. In Chapter 2 the essentially qualitative and interpretive nature of the methodology is outlined and explained. Chapter 3 provides a critical review of international development literature in which it is argued that official definitions and descriptions of development are based on production and deficit models. The need to accommodate an indigenous and organic concept of development, one that takes account of the diversity of human experience, is stressed. Chapter 4 provides an outline of Solomon Islands society. Here, the historical narrative is complemented by three metaphors - 'island', wantok and betelnut - which serve to reinforce and explain the nature of Solomon Islands society and the ways in which that society has been shaped by historical processes. Chapter 5 is devoted to a discussion of modern development activity in Solomon Islands, the main focus being on the period immediately preceding and following independence. Chapter 6 explores, with particular reference to Ulawa Island, indigenous concepts of development and the impact of national development activities on rural-dwelling islanders. It also engages the issue of state reform, proposing a model based on a two tier system, with central government in its current form dealing directly with the people at constituency rather than provincial level. Finally, Chapter 7 summarizes the main conclusions reached. It is noted that the failure of both pre- and post-independence governments to take full account of the nature of Solomon Islands society has been a major factor in the lack of effective development in the islands.
Type of thesis
Rohorua, F. I. (2007). The Concept of Development in Ulawa in Solomon Islands and its Implications for National Development Policy and Planning (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2541
The University of Waikato
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