VANUATU CHIEF SEES POVERTY, RURAL NEGLECT

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Chief Daniel urges better planning, distribution of services

By Godwin Ligo PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 15, 2010) – In Vanuatu, Chief Daniel Molisa of Santo said that the economic growth over the last 30 years has been slow and wealth of the country has not been distributed fairly throughout the country, especially amongst the rural population.

The Chief is also concerned that the Vanuatu population living in the two towns of Port Vila and Luganville suffer today as a result of the way the economy of the country has developed.

[PIR editor’s note: Santo is the largest island in Sanma Province. Luganville is a town located on the southeast coast of Santo and is the second largest town in Vanuatu with a population of about 46,000. The largest town is the capital, Port Vila, with about 79,000 residents in 2009]

"Today in Port Vila some families live on 100 vatu [$1] a day just to keep them survive and past and present government cannot turn the blind eye on this urban situation and difficulties that the families are facing," he said.

Chief Molisa believes that Vanuatu can become self reliant in economy that is to be able to feed its own people if the leaders will focus on the right economic policies.

The Santo Chief said he could not stand the sight of seeing lands of Vanuatu are being sold out as if these are some export commodities.

It is for these reasons and others that Chief Molisa is calling on all leaders and people of Santo including other islanders who have made Luganville or Santo their second home to attend what he called Rural Community Meeting this Sunday at the North Pole Kava Nakamal at Ohlen Whitewood at 4 pm.

He appealed to all Santo politicians and Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as youths, women, churches, chiefs and representatives from Santo to be present at the meeting.

"The purpose of the meeting is to look at many challenges facing our people and nation today, works out a road map to help the people of Santo see their way through the future in terms of economic and social development in Santo. All governments since 1980 up to now have not done enough. Santo is the largest island in the country with much space to offer in all areas of developments from agriculture to other developments but the problem as it seems to me is that all past governments have failed to place importance on rural development," he said.

He added that Vanuatu should study the example of China where the government invests in the people in the rural community as opposed to urban focus and white-collar jobs.

Chief Molisa said Vanuatu is one of the best agricultural countries in the world with the best agricultural climate in the world with land, water and sea to be able to provide food for the population without its people depending on rice and tin fish from China but yet something is wrong because of lack of economic foresight on the part of the leaders who depend too much on foreign hand outs.

"This Sunday Santo Community Meeting is to provide some directions for the rural development of our people in the next ten years and beyond," he said.

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