Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-cx6qr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-09T22:51:02.877Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Who are the poor? Measuring wealth inequality to aid understanding of socioeconomic contexts for conservation: a case-study from the Solomon Islands

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2014

University of St Andrews, North Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
University of St Andrews, North Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK
School of Environment and the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, University of Dundee, Perth Road, Dundee DD1 4HN, UK
*Correspondence: Tammy Davies e-mail:


Understanding the local socioeconomic context is important for the design of appropriate conservation initiatives and associated monitoring strategies, especially in areas with high degrees of inequality, to ensure conservation interventions do not inadvertently further disadvantage vulnerable people. Typical assessments of wealth inequality in remote rural areas are constrained by limited engagement with a cash economy, complex family and tribal ties, and an absence of basic infrastructure. This paper presents a simple participatory approach to measure wealth inequality that does not predefine indicators, such as income or assets, but allows the local people choose the most appropriate indicators. A case study from the Solomon Islands revealed poor households in Kahua were characterized by fewer members, fewer members of working age, and fewer male members than wealthier households. The poor also owned fewer of the locally defined indicators of wealth that were collectively correlated with limited land tenure, and, consequently, conservation or development initiatives that are tied to land in Kahua will be less likely to assist the poorest. Adopting this participatory approach could improve the effectiveness of community-based conservation, through facilitating opportunities to explore local poverty and routes for alleviation.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adjei, J., Arun, T. & Hossain, F. (2009) Asset building and poverty reduction in Ghana: the case of microfinance. Savings and Development 33 (3): 265291.Google Scholar
Agrawal, A. & Redford, K. (2006) Poverty, development, and biodiversity conservation: shooting in the dark? Working paper no. 26, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, NY, USA: 56 pp.Google Scholar
Alkire, S. & Foster, J. (2011) Understandings and misunderstandings of multidimensional poverty measurement. Journal of Economic Inequality 9 (2): 289314.Google Scholar
Alkire, S. & Santos, M. E. (2010) Acute multidimensional poverty: a new index for developing countries. OPHI working paper no. 38, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Oxford, UK: 139 pp.Google Scholar
Allen, M.G., Bourke, R.M., Evans, B.R., Iramu, E., Maemouri, R.K., Mullen, B.F., Pollard, A.A., Wairiu, M., Watoto, C. & Zotalis, S. (2006) Solomon Islands smallholder agriculture study: Volume 4. Provincial reports. AusAID, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
Ambrose-Oji, B. (2003) The contribution of NTFPs to the livelihoods of the’forest poor’: evidence from the tropical forest zone of south-west Cameroon. International Forestry Review 5 (2): 106117.Google Scholar
Applebaum, L.D. (2003) The influence of perceived deservingness on policy decisions regarding aid to the poor. Political Psychology 22 (3): 419442.Google Scholar
Babulo, B., Muys, B., Nega, F., Tollens, E., Nyssen, J., Deckers, J. & Mathijs, E. (2009) The economic contribution of forest resource use to rural livelihoods in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Forest Policy and Economics 11 (2): 109117.Google Scholar
Bacon, C. (2005) Confronting the coffee crisis: can fair trade, organic, and specialty coffees reduce small-scale farmer vulnerability in northern Nicaragua? World Development 33 (3): 497511.Google Scholar
Barrett, C.B., Travis, A.J. & Dasgupta, P. (2011) On biodiversity conservation and poverty traps. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108 (34): 1390713912.Google Scholar
Bayliss-Smith, T., Hviding, E. & Whitmore, T. (2003) Rainforest composition and histories of human disturbance in Solomon Islands. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 32 (5): 346352.Google Scholar
Biewen, M. (2006) Who are the chronic poor? An econometric analysis of chronic poverty in Germany. Research on Economic Inequality 13: 3162.Google Scholar
Birdsall, N. & Londoño, J. L. (1997) Asset inequality matters: an assessment of the World Bank's approach to poverty reduction. The American Economic Review 87 (2): 3237.Google Scholar
Bonnemaison, J. (1984) Social and cultural aspects of land tenure. In: Land Tenure in Vanuatu, ed. Lamour, P., pp. 17. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific.Google Scholar
Börner, J., Wunder, S., Wertz-Kanounnikoff, S., Tito, M. R., Pereira, L. & Nascimento, N. (2010) Direct conservation payments in the Brazilian Amazon: scope and equity implications. Ecological Economics 69 (6): 12721282.Google Scholar
Bourke, R., McGregor, A., Allen, M., Evans, B., Mullen, B., Pollard, A., Wairiu, M. & Zotalis, S. (2006) Solomon Islands Smallholder Agriculture Study: Volume 1. Main findings and recommendations. AusAID, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
Bradshaw, C.J.A. & Brook, B.W. (2010) The conservation biologist's toolbox–principles for the design and analysis of conservation studies. In: Conservation Biology for All, ed. Sodhi, N.S. & Ehrlich, P.R., pp. 313334. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Brandolini, A., Magri, S. & Smeeding, T.M. (2010) Asset-based measurement of poverty. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 29 (2): 267284.Google Scholar
Burnham, K.P. & Anderson, D.R. (2002) Model Selection and Multi-Model Inference: a Practical Information-Theoretic Approach. New York, USA: Springer.Google Scholar
Buvinić, M. & Gupta, G.R. (1997) Female-headed households and female-maintained families: are they worth targeting to reduce poverty in developing countries? Economic Development and Cultural Change 45 (2): 25280.Google Scholar
Carter, M.R. & Barrett, C.B. (2006) The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: an asset-based approach. The Journal of Development Studies 42 (2): 178199.Google Scholar
Carter, M.R. & May, J. (2001) One kind of freedom: poverty dynamics in post-apartheid South Africa. World Development 29 (12): 19872006.Google Scholar
Cavendish, W. (1999) Poverty, inequality and environmental resources: quantitative analysis of rural households. Report. Centre for the Study of African Economies, Institute of Economics and Statistics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
Chambers, R. (1992) Rural appraisal: rapid, relaxed and participatory. Discussion paper 311, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK.Google Scholar
Chambers, R. (1994) The origins and practice of participatory rural appraisal. World Development 22 (7): 953969.Google Scholar
Chambers, R. (1995) Poverty and livelihoods: whose reality counts? Environment and Urbanization 7 (1): 173204.Google Scholar
Cinner, J. (2009) Poverty and the use of destructive fishing gear near east African marine protected areas. Environmental Conservation 36 (4): 321326.Google Scholar
Corbera, E., Kosoy, N. & Martínez Tuna, M. (2007) Equity implications of marketing ecosystem services in protected areas and rural communities: case studies from Meso-America. Global Environmental Change 17 (3–4): 365380.Google Scholar
Cornwall, A. & Jewkes, R. (1995) What is participatory research? Social Science and Medicine 41 (12): 16671676.Google Scholar
Daw, T., Brown, K., Rosendo, S. & Pomeroy, R. (2011) Applying the ecosystem services concept to poverty alleviation: the need to disaggregate human well-being. Environmental Conservation 38 (4): 370379.Google Scholar
Dawson, T.P., Rounsevell, M.D., Kluvánková-Oravská, T., Chobotová, V. & Stirling, A. (2010) Dynamic properties of complex adaptive ecosystems: implications for the sustainability of service provision. Biodiversity and Conservation 19 (10): 28432853.Google Scholar
Ellis, F. & Freeman, H.A. (2004) Rural livelihoods and poverty reduction strategies in four African countries. Journal of Development Studies 40 (4): 130.Google Scholar
Fazey, I., Kesby, M., Evely, A., Latham, I., Wagatora, D., Hagasua, J.-E., Reed, M.S. & Christie, M. (2010) A three-tiered approach to participatory vulnerability assessment in the Solomon Islands. Global Environmental Change 20 (4): 713728.Google Scholar
Fazey, I., Pettorelli, N., Kenter, J., Wagatora, D. & Schuett, D. (2011) Maladaptive trajectories of change in Makira, Solomon Islands. Global Environmental Change 21 (4): 12751289.Google Scholar
Filmer, D. & Pritchett, L.H. (2001) Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data, or tears: an application to educational enrollments in states of India. Demography 38 (1): 115132.Google Scholar
Fisher, M. (2004) Household welfare and forest dependence in Southern Malawi. Environment and Development Economics 9 (2): 135154.Google Scholar
Foale, S. & Manele, B. (2004) Social and political barriers to the use of marine protected areas for conservation and fishery management in Melanesia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 45 (3): 373386.Google Scholar
Furusawa, T. & Ohtsuka, R. (2006) Inter-household variations in subsistence strategies within a rural society of Roviana, Solomon Islands: an analysis of agricultural production and cash income in relation to socio-demographic factors. Tropics 15 (1): 2937.Google Scholar
Gardner, T. (2010) Monitoring Forest Biodiversity: Improving Conservation Through Ecologically-Responsible Management. London, UK: Earthscan.Google Scholar
Garonna, I., Fazey, I., Brown, M. E. & Pettorelli, N. (2009) Rapid primary productivity changes in one of the last coastal rainforests: the case of Kahua, Solomon Islands. Environmental Conservation 36 (3): 253260.Google Scholar
Gibson, J. (2000) Who's not in school? Economic barriers to universal primary education in Papua New Guinea. Pacific Economic Bulletin 15 (2): 4658.Google Scholar
Gibson, J. (2006) Are there holes in the safety net?: Remittances and inter-household transfers in Pacific Island economies. Working paper no. 1, Pasifika Interactions Project, Institute of Policy Studies [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Glasse, R. M. (1959) Melanesia: social anthropology.: revenge and redress among the Huli: 1 a preliminary account. Mankind 5 (7): 273289.Google Scholar
Gönner, C., Haug, M., Cahyat, A., Wollenberg, E., de Jong, W., Limberg, G., Cronkleton, P., Moeliono, M. & Becker, M. (2007) Capturing nested spheres of poverty: a model for multidimensional poverty analysis and monitoring. In: CIFOR Occasional Paper No. 46, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Jakarta, Indonesia.Google Scholar
Homewood, K. (2013) Monitoring and evaluating the socio-economic impacts of conservation projects on local communities. In: Biodiversity Monitoring and conservation: Bridging the Gaps Between Global Commitment and Local Action, ed. Collen, B., Pettorelli, N., Baillie, J. & Durant, S., pp. 265290. Cambridge, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Hulme, D. & McKay, A. (2005) Identifying and measuring chronic poverty: beyond monetary measures. Indian Institute of Public Administration [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Hutton, J., Adams, W.M. & Murombedzi, J.C. (2005) Back to the barriers? Changing narratives in biodiversity conservation. Forum for Development Studies 32: 341370.Google Scholar
Iversen, V., Chhetry, B., Francis, P., Gurung, M., Kafle, G., Pain, A. & Seeley, J. (2006) High value forests, hidden economies and elite capture: Evidence from forest user groups in Nepal's Terai. Ecological Economics 58 (1): 93107.Google Scholar
Kaplan, R.S. & Norton, D.P. (2001) Transforming the balanced scorecard from performance measurement to strategic management: Part I. Accounting Horizons 15 (1): 87104.Google Scholar
Kenter, J.O., Hyde, T., Christie, M. & Fazey, I. (2011) The importance of deliberation in valuing ecosystem services in developing countries. Evidence from the Solomon Islands. Global Environmental Change 21 (2): 505521.Google Scholar
Krishna, A. (2009) Subjective assessments, participatory methods, and poverty dynamics: the stages of progress method. In: Poverty Dynamics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Addison, T., Hulme, D. & Kanbur, R., pp. 183201. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Krishna, A. & Shrader, E. (1999) Social capital assessment tool. Paper prepared for the Conference on Social Capital and Poverty Reduction, The World Bank, Washington, DC, June 22–24, 1999 [www document]. URL–SOCAT-/sciwp22.pdf Google Scholar
Laderchi, C.R., Saith, R. & Stewart, F. (2003) Does it matter that we do not agree on the definition of poverty? A comparison of four approaches. Oxford Development Studies 31 (3): 243274.Google Scholar
Lawlor, K., Weinthal, E. & Olander, L. (2010) Institutions and policies to protect rural livelihoods in REDD+ regimes. Global Environmental Politics 10 (4): 111.Google Scholar
Liverpool-Tasie, L.S.O. & Winter-Nelson, A. (2011) Asset versus consumption poverty and poverty dynamics in rural Ethiopia. Agricultural Economics 42 (2): 221233.Google Scholar
Lockwood, V.S. (2002) Poverty in paradise: Development and relative income poverty in rural Tahitian society. Human Organization 61 (3): 210225.Google Scholar
Macintyre, M. (2009) Police and thieves, gunmen and drunks: problems with men and problems with society in Papua New Guinea. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 19 (2): 179193.Google Scholar
Mataki, M. (2011) Solomon Islands National Assessment Report Rio + 20. Solomon Islands Government, Honiara, Solomon Islands.Google Scholar
McGee, R. & Brock, K. (2001) From poverty assessment to policy change: processes, actors and data. Working paper 133. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK [www document]. URL Google Scholar
McGregor, A. & Sumner, A. (2010) Beyond business as usual: what might 3-d wellbeing contribute to MDG momentum? IDS Bulletin 41 (1): 104112.Google Scholar
McMurray, C., Foale, S., Roberts, P., Breen, B. & Cann-Evans, S. (2008) People's survey 2008. AusAID, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
Medeiros, M. & Costa, J. (2006) Poverty among women in Latin America: Feminization or over-representation? Working paper no. 20. United Nations Development Programme and International Poverty Centre [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Miles, W.F. (1997) Pigs, politics and social change in Vanuatu. Society and Animals 5 (2): 155167.Google Scholar
Miles, W.F. (1998) Tenure, promotion and pig-killing. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 30 (5): 3033.Google Scholar
Ministry of Environment Conservation and Meteorology (2008) Solomon Islands State of Environment Report Ministry of Environment Conservation and Meteorology, Honiara, Solomon Islands.Google Scholar
Moser, C. & Felton, A. (2009) The construction of an asset index. In: Poverty Dynamics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Addison, T., Hulme, D. & Kanbur, R., pp. 102127. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., Da Fonseca, G.A. & Kent, J. (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403 (6772): 853858.Google Scholar
Nanau, G. (2011) The wantok system as a socio-economic and political network in Melanesia. The Journal of Multicultural Society 2 (1): 3155.Google Scholar
Naughton-Treves, L. (2012) Participatory zoning to balance conservation and development in protected areas. In: Integrating Ecology and Poverty Reduction, ed. Ingram, J.C., DeClerck, F. & Rumbaitis del Rio, C., pp. 235251. New York, NY, USA: Springer.Google Scholar
Nielsen, M.R., Pouliot, M. & Kim Bakkegaard, R. (2012) Combining income and assets measures to include the transitory nature of poverty in assessments of forest dependence: evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ecological Economics 78: 3746.Google Scholar
Perry, B. (2002) The mismatch between income measures and direct outcome measures of poverty. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand 19: 101127.Google Scholar
R Core Team (2013) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar
Rakodi, C. (2002) A livelihoods approach: conceptual issues and definitions. In: Urban Livelihoods: A People-Centred Approach to Reducing Poverty, ed. Rakodi, C. & Lloyd, T., pp. 322. London, UK: Earthscan.Google Scholar
Reardon, T. & Vosti, S.A. (1995) Links between rural poverty and the environment in developing countries: asset categories and investment poverty. World Development 23 (9): 14951506.Google Scholar
Rissman, A.R. (2011) Evaluating conservation effectiveness and adaptation in dynamic landscapes. Law and Contemporary Problems 74: 145.Google Scholar
Rodríguez-Pose, A. & Tselios, V. (2010) Inequalities in income and education and regional economic growth in western Europe. The Annals of Regional Science 44 (2): 349375.Google Scholar
Roscoe, P. (2000) New Guinea leadership as ethnographic analogy: a critical review. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 7 (2): 79126.Google Scholar
Saito-Jenson, M., Nathan, I. & Treue, T. (2010) Beyond elite capture? Community-based natural resource management and power in Mohammed Nagar village, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Conservation 37 (3): 327335.Google Scholar
Sen, A. (1993) Capability and well-being. In: The Quality of Life, ed. Nussbaum, M. & Sen, A., pp, . 3053. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Sommerville, M., Jones, J.P.G., Rahajaharison, M. & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2010) The role of fairness and benefit distribution in community-based payment for environmental services interventions: a case study from Menabe, Madagascar. Ecological Economics 69 (6): 12621271.Google Scholar
UNICEF (2011) Children in the Solomon Islands 2011: an Atlas of Social Indicators. Suva, Fiji: United Nations Children's Fund.Google Scholar
Vyas, S. & Kumaranayake, L. (2006) Constructing socio-economic status indices: how to use principal components analysis. Health Policy and Planning 21 (6): 459.Google Scholar
Yemiru, T., Roos, A., Campbell, B. & Bohlin, F. (2010) Forest incomes and poverty alleviation under participatory forest management in the Bale Highlands, Southern Ethiopia. International Forestry Review 12 (1): 6677.Google Scholar