Caught between Two Worlds: A Social Impact Study of Large and Small Scale Development in Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands

Publication - 1 October, 2000
“Caught Between Two Worlds” describes the problems large-scale industrial enterprises like logging and plantations cause for families and communities in the Solomon Islands. The report reinforces the importance of village based development in the rebuilding of the nation.

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Executive summary: Commercial development in the Marovo Lagoon is having a powerful impact on village society and culture, as Western-style materialism infiltrates and overtakes traditional living. The introduction of the cash economy has been escalating over the last 50 years.A few villagers see this shift to ‘modern living´ as positive. The majority of Marovo people interviewed in this study saw the erosion of traditional values as damaging to the well-being of their communities. They saw any commercial activity as having harmful effects. Their main concerns are:

  • Traditional skills loss, including cultural and life skills (eg. food production, weaving)
  • Traditional authority and leadership structures erosion, and less respect for elders
  • The erosion of their collectivist culture, where working together is essential to villagers´ well-being and even survival
  • An excessive reliance on cash and an increasing reluctance amongst men to contribute to primary production of food and housing
  • Fears about where these trends will lead in the future.Some positive impacts of commercial activity were evident where small-scale, village or family based enterprise such as eco-tourism, paper-making and ecoforestry had been developed relatively slowly, including:
    • Family-based, rather than village-based
    • Small in scale and manageable by one family group
    • Developed gradually with minimal control by outsiders
    • Focused on conservation of natural resources.
    Where large-scale, foreign-owned enterprise development has occurred, the majority of villagers have been unable to identify any positive social or economic outcomes for themselves. While a small number of individuals have received some financial benefit, most have not shared in that gain. Even years after foreign loggers had left, villagers have not found ways of generating income or other ways to provide themselves with housing, food and transport, nor for remedying the loss of trust in each other and their authority structures.The study indicates that, in general, women have been the losers. Most economic benefits went to the men, whereas women almost invariably ended up with a heavier workload and no actual benefit in terms of their own health, education or other aspects of well-being.This report explores people´s experiences of large and small-scale developments in Marovo. It is the result of a qualitative social impact study that aims to help others make informed planning and policy decisions by taking social consequences into account.
  • Num. pages: 24