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Development Bulletin. 2002 Dec; (60):8-12.Land is the key to resolving many of the conflicts and problems of Melanesia. Solutions have to involve ways that will work for the majority of the people of the region. A characteristic of the Melanesian South Pacific is that control of the land and virtually all other natural resources is not held exclusively by the state. Only small percentages of the region’s land resources have been alienated to the state. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) it is less than 3 per cent; in the Solomon Islands about 12 per cent, and in Vanuatu all land was deemed to return to its customary owners at independence. These natural resources are held in various combinations of customary group rights and customary individual rights. These rights continue to operate within a range of customary land tenure and land use systems. National constitutions of these countries specifically recognise the validity of these customary systems within the modern state; the majority of citizens want them to continue. Such determination in the face of significant continuing outside as well as internal pressures implies that there is much about these customary tenure systems that is not appreciated by outside forces that try to undermine and destroy them. Why are these systems so important and how can other activities link up with such customary institutions? With these customary rights come expectations and responsibilities in value systems that channel and direct both social and economic behaviour patterns of people living within those systems. Over time the strong links between rights and responsibilities have begun to fade and integrated patterns of beliefs, values and behaviour have become less integrated and more diffuse. Critical areas such as leadership, for example, have taken on new characteristics, expectations and behaviour patterns to such an extent that many modern leaders act with virtual impunity within their ‘fiefdoms’, especially in dealings with natural resources. The conjunction between land, people and governance in Melanesia must underlie efforts to resolve Melanesia’s current problems and malaise. To speak constructively about ‘South Pacific Futures’ the critical importance of land in these societies must be addressed to find forward-thinking ways to resolve Melanesian dilemmas. (excerpt)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Institute for International Development, 1990 Aug. v, 51 p. (Development Discussion Paper No. 355)Development planners often disregard the counter development risks of development projects in developing countries. Since they do not acknowledge these risks beforehand and do not take action to circumvent or reduce these risks, some counter development effects cause a considerable unexpected chain reaction. For example, dam construction agencies either underestimate population displacement numbers or do not include the estimates in feasibility reports. The development of Lake Sobradinho in Brazil displaced 65,000 inhabitants. 24,000 were supposed to relocate 800km upstream, but only 28% actually moved there. Many people lost their possessions and animals. Once they arrived at the new location, they had to fend for themselves. A hydropower and irrigation project on the Citarum river in West Java, Indonesia, resulted in a 49% lower household income and a 47% lower land ownership. The Kiambere reservoir project in Kenya caused mean land holding size to fall from 13-6 hectares, a >33% reduction in livestock, and >66% reduction in yields of maize and beans. Thus water resource development programs designed to bring irrigation, flood control, drinking water, energy, and better navigation to the aggregate population often result in impoverishment for the dislocated population. Joblessness, homelessness, morbidity, marginalization, and the disintegration of social and kinship networks also cause impoverishment. Water resource development planners can incorporate preventive and mitigating measures to guarantee adequate resettlement of the displaced persons into these projects via 4 frameworks. The policy framework involves guidelines for forced population displacement. Governments need to develop a legal framework to protect the interests and rights of the displaced people. The planning framework requires resettlement actions plans (ideally to reduce displacement) to be an integral part of planning the project. The organizational framework places resettlement high on the list of priorities.