What Development Is Not About? Some Recaps from SIDTs Founder

By Longden Manedika Director, SIDT. (this article was sent to press (Solomon Star) in October 2014, remembrance of 100 days after Dr. J. Roughans departure.)

It has been a year ago, when he was called to rest, 24th October 2013. At this point in time, on behalf of the SIDT Board, Management, Employees and volunteers (current and past), I would like to acknowledge the Government, Civil Society/NGO sector, partners and friends of SIDT, for their respect paid to a gentleman-Dr. John Joseph Roughan, whom we remembered as a friend, colleague, teacher, mentor, and advisor to people from various disciplines who relates to him and his work. He was also SIDT’s founder. Paul Roughan (Lt. Dr. Roughan’s son), I also think of you on this occasion and being the advocate to your family in Solo and USA for SIDT’s memories for your dad presented herein.

Humbly, I’d like to select a little meat from the bones on some of Dr. John’s legacies for SIDT and for our Country. He used to highlight that ‘development is not about the almighty dollar alone, but is about people’s lives’ Sometimes you can hear him argues that money cannot be the substitute to development, though important, it (money) can only be an addition’.

He acknowledges that the above statements contradict the lifestyle from where he comes from-New York City, where he was born and raised. In NY, money is almost everything one needs to survive. He entered Solomon Islands on a missionary tour of duty in 1958 and later found out that ‘Solomon Islands is a Nation comprising of thousands of villages-with wealthy people. ‘They own mountains, land, and sea …’, he said. His research continues and flourish and when SIDT was incepted in 1982 the Goal becomes ‘to improve the quality of village living,’ taking into serious account, Strong Villages= Strong Nation.

The development paradigm he appreciates is about people being informed and empowered so that they make informed choices and be able to help themselves. Information sharing then becomes the SIDT mission. As he builds capacity for his employees John’s method is simple ‘Get the information from the people, refine it and give it back to them because it is theirs-Be just like the fly on the wall. They will not be able to disagree from what has been theirs and they (people) will decide to map and graph themselves. Remember, listen with the third ear.’

The words development or projects as described by him, are new words that have entered the village setting. Some reflections to add: To substitute (replace) the way we live with development initiatives that money controls is a trap programed to blindfold resource owners. Sometimes this can be dictated by and for the wealth of a selfish, greedy few. This does not mean that money is not important, however, it (money) should only be an addition that only complements the simple lifestyle village people own. If we own something we can still have control over it! Every indigenous Solomon Islander comes from the village setting- we call this home, the power-base is what we own. Even past, present and future Politicians have or will confirm this as they are to secure support/votes from the village audience before becoming legislators. Further, reality shows now that financial reward today is a key expectation from Government, investors, resource owners and other third parties (middle persons-individuals/firms) from any development initiatives. This may or may not be a problem for some, but somehow people (mostly village level) that have custody and concern of the environment (Natural resources) and the social fabrics of village setting are paid less attention to in development planning. Environmental and social rewards should not be overlooked that cheaply. It can be even more devastating if investors have influence over our political system negatively. This will widen the gap between people and their Government that even money itself cannot bridge. This can be when Development is not about money

alone, but about people’s lives that needs to be improved out of it. We need to revisit our villages’ quality of life indexes together. God Bless Solomon Islands.