Making a living in Vanuatu: Livelihoods and development in peri-urban Port Vila

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Masters Thesis
Title Making a living in Vanuatu: Livelihoods and development in peri-urban Port Vila
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
In the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu, the majority of the population is involved in subsistence agriculture. However, through the processes of globalisation and urbanisation, people are increasingly moving to the capital city, and economic hub, of the country, Port Vila, to participate in education and the exchange of goods. This migration has led to the growth of peri-urban settlements, the expansion of existing villages, and a change from traditional lifestyles. Communities, who live in the peripheral areas of Port Vila, are often disadvantaged because they have limited infrastructure and social support from local authorities. Such people need to develop supportive livelihood strategies by diversifying the ways they earn a living. This study examines the livelihoods of people living in peri-urban Port Vila by identifying the main influences on peri-urban businesses. The field-based research conducted during June 2012, collected primary data from semi-structured interviews with family business owners, chiefs, local NGOs and key decision-makers.

The results reveal that there are different opportunities for peri-urban village businesses and peri-urban informal settlements. People living within peri-urban villages have the opportunity to enter the tourism sector. The peri-urban informal settlements lack this opportunity, however, there are other prospects within the informal sector. NGOs, local authorities and community play important roles in supporting these businesses.

This research is of importance to New Zealand, which is one of the leading aid donors to Vanuatu, and reveals the significance of understanding livelihood strategies in Pacific Island nations. Further, it is of value to Vanuatu’s local and central governments, as public perceptions and the understanding of local businesses initiatives and peri-urban areas are needed for policy development.

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