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Livelihoods, leadership, linkages and locality: the Simbo for Change project
© 2020 Victoria University of Wellington and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd This paper analyses the ‘Simbo for Change’ project in the Western Province of Solomon Islands, a collaboration between Simbo leaders and a Samoan non-governmental organisation (NGO), with funding provided by the Australian aid programme. We explore the role of local leadership in catalysing an island-wide community development project that has generated new livelihoods opportunities and led to greater community cohesion and more proactive governance. By mobilising around a ‘collective subject’ (Simbo as an island community), the project allowed existing skills and practices to be revalued and extended, particularly in relation to chiefly governance and the standing of women in the community. While mobilising the island scale was important in building social cohesion and support for livelihoods activities, this was not a parochial identity but was redefined by stronger connections to off-island markets, organic accreditation for Simbo, renewed interest from provincial and national government authorities and by the enduring trans-Pacific friendships established with the Samoan NGO and its trainers. The case study provides an example of the constructive potential of the island scale in Melanesia, whereas other recent studies of similar scale-making processes have focused on violent conflict generated by industrial scale mining.