A case study of the socio-economic development of Tovulailai : a village in Fiji : a thesis presented to the Department of Sociology, Massey University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts
The 'Rural Development' programme in Fiji began about 1969, the eve of our independence, with the principal aim to raise the standard of living in the rural areas, in particular those who live in the villages. Consideration was given to involve the rural people closely and meaningfully with the planning, decision making and implementation of the programme. To date, because the need for development in rural areas is so great and due to the severe lack of skilled manpower, Fiji cannot do everything she requires especially in the areas of feasibility studies and research. This is why most of the works done in this areas were done mainly by expatriates who were in many instances, total strangers to the local scene and who may not have fully understood or appreciated the complex nature and the interwoven intricacies of the Fijian way of life. Compounding this problem is the lack of Fijian scholars who are interested in the areas of social research. The basic aim of this present study is to examine the development of the village people and also to stimulate Fijian scholars to become interested in studying the development of their own people, especially of those who are in the disadvantaged rural sector. This paper presents a case study of the socio-economic development of Tovulailai: a village in rural Fiji. The present study is an attempt to observe and explain the influences of the multiple outside forces, in particular those exerted by change agents and how these village people have responded and adapted to these social forces which are impinging upon them. The needs which the people of Tovulailai felt and expressed were fully identified together with the various problems why these needs were not being fulfilled. People in this village needed to raise their general standard of living; improve their level of education; their health and general sanitation; to facilitate their access to urban markets; need to increase their sources of income; the need for adequate housing; the need for transportation and communication and other infrastructural facilities. But, they cannot easily satisfy these needs because of the problems inherent in the present system. These problems are: the lack of good leadership; lack of education lack of good cultivable land; lack of access to urban markets; lack of good housing; lack of technical skills; lack of goods and services; lack of scientific agricultural techniques and low level of technology in the rural villages. The non-structured intensive interview and observation research methods were used by this study in its attempt to examine and explain how the people of Tovulailai village are responding to the impact of social change agents in their attempt to meeting their pressing needs as expressed above. Furthermore, an attempt is made to determine how change agents themselves achieved results and how the mechanism of change within the client system functioned in diffusing and communicating the process of social change and how clients attain their goals in passing from one social state to another. All these processes are fully discussed in the text. The implications of the study which can be used in other situations in Fiji are discussed in the concluding section of this paper. It is apparent that the central issue which emerged in the study is the very effective interaction between the change agents, the client system and the mechanism of diffusion of social change within the system to achieve the desired objectives in socio-economic development at the village level.