The past two years have been declared the years of the ‘custom (kastom) economy’ within Vanuatu, by both the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs and the National Cultural Centre. Such a declaration is indicative of many ni-Vanuatu citizens concerns to do with the [un]sustainable directions of current macro-economic conditions and strategies of the Vanuatu state.
Such conditions and strategies have resulted in a potential ‘social disaster’ due to issues such as land alienation from the indigenous people, the undermining of food security as land is utilised for export-oriented trade, tourism and speculative land leasing, and a reliance on external investment.
The ‘years of the kastom economy’ reflect both a reaction to and resistance against this kind of orthodox and yet unstustainble direction.
This paper considers the complexities of sustainable community economic strategies unpacking two key tensions between the: individual vs collective and cash vs custom.
The paper emerges from reflections on four years of working in Vanuatu and specific consultations conducted during 2009.
|Keywords:||Pacific Island Economies, Customary Life, Community Development Practice/Theory, Community Economic Development|
Lecturer in Community Development and Research Associate, School of Social Work & Human Services and Australian Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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