A participatory model of rural poverty in Samoa
The aim of this research was to gain a greater understanding of the nature of rural poverty in Samoa from the perspective of the poor, which could lead to recommendations on strategies for alleviating poverty. More specific objectives of the research were to develop a participatory definition of rural poverty in Samoa, to determine the causes of rural poverty in Samoa from the perspective of the poor, to identify the strategies that the rural poor in Samoa use to manage poverty, to identify the constraints identified by the rural poor in Samoa to moving out of poverty, to identify the interactions between causes of rural poverty in Samoa, strategies used to manage poverty and constraints to moving out of poverty, and to identify some solutions to moving out of rural poverty, and to make recommendations on how poverty can be reduced in Samoa that may help in the design of appropriate poverty-reducing strategies. This aim and its objectives were achieved by developing and analysing a participatory model of rural poverty in a Samoan context. This was done using a qualitative research method known as grounded theory. Poverty in Samoa was defined by the poor as not including food poverty and there is no shortage of normal staple foods. However, there may be a temporary shortage of food in periods of natural disasters or inability to access special foods. Poverty can also be associated with a lack of household assets and community facilities, and lack of ability to meet a range of obligations including village, social, cultural, family and church obligations. Lack of income, income earning ability and savings was also defined by the poor as a dimension of their poverty. Entry into poverty occurs because of events related to personal circumstances, events related to social obligations and external events (such as natural events or economic events). There appears to be an event that pushes people into poverty which is reinforced by other events. Although people fall into poverty, at some point they reach the safety net that protects them from the worst effects of poverty and stops their situation getting worse. This safety net includes getting support from others, temporary employment and semi-subsistence activities. These activities stop their situation getting worse. Some people remain poor and do so because they are unable to get enough money from others to build up their financial reserves, they are unable to get a well-paying job and are unable to build up a small business from semi-subsistence activities enough to get them out of poverty, or to build up financial reserves, because their obligations are too great. For some, these factors can be compounded by an attitude toward poverty, a lack of participation in decision making; isolation and lack of power and voice. Some poor people are able to get out of poverty by building up a business from semi-subsistence, getting money from others and building up their savings, reducing their social obligations, using family resources strategically, temporary work and education. Associated with these strategies was a very strategic attitude towards poverty, where they use family resources strategically and have a positive attitude to their situation. Some people, who were poor, had got out of poverty, but then become poor again. They had been able to get out of poverty because they managed to earn enough income (and build up income earning assets) to support the family and meet their obligations. Thus, they were able to accumulate their reserves. They did this by building up a business from semi-subsistence, etc), getting money from others and savings, and using family resources strategically. Even though they were able to get out of poverty because of these strategies, certain unexpected events could then push them back into poverty. The events that push them back into poverty are those identified previously events that first pushed people into poverty. These were events associated with personal circumstances, events related to social obligations as well as external natural and economic events. A process of capital accumulation emerged from the participatory model that had been developed. This included building up reserves (through getting money from others, money from employment and building up a business) and then depleting reserves (through obligations, consumption and investment). This process of accumulating reserves could be disrupted by further poverty-inducing events. Recommendations for moving out of poverty included recommendations for individuals and families, recommendations for communities and villages, and recommendations for the national government and the international community. Solution for moving out of poverty depends on the circumstances of the individual and is likely to vary for different groups of people.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsdevelopment; poverty; definition of poverty; causes of poverty; poverty constraints; solutions to poverty; Samoa
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