Saturday, January 15, 2011

Learning Journal 4

According to the 2006 Tongan census, 72% of the population owned their dwelling, 4% rented, and 23% resided in their dwelling rent free. I'm not entirely sure how 23% don't pay rent for their dwelling or own it. It might have something to do with the close knit familial relations that exist, where owners weren't charging rent to family. I'll have to look further into that one because that could be an interesting hindrance to landscape development. I was surprised to see that 72% owned their dwelling. It came as a surprise mostly because I had heard that few people actually owned the land they lived on. I don't know whether the fact that they own their dwelling implies they own the land as well, but it would make sense that they would. I still need to dig further and see how land is distributed and who is in charge of its development. I've heard different ideas about the nobles sectioning off the land for the people but I haven't found a concrete source about that yet. It also could be different with a new government underway although it doesn't seem like change occurs quickly in Tonga.
In Vava'u there is a total of 2,871 households, with a population density of 128/km2. Vava'u covers 121 km2. The population of Vava'u is about 15,000. An interesting fact on the census is that 2148 people work in agriculture or fisheries. While they deal primarily with crops, that means there are people aware of plant care to some degree.
I spent a long time just trying to find any kind of document on Tonga and this is the one I found but haven't had a chance to read all of it yet. The topic covered in the document is an urban development in Nuku'alofa. One notable quote that gave me hope was: "The Government acknowledges that for sustained growth, health, education, water and sanitation, physical infrastructure, and the environment have to be improved." Landscape development is an integral part of infrastructure and environment. Especially in the capital city with the destructive riots a few years ago, several Tongans have told me there is quite a lot of development going on. Also another line from this group's analysis was: "The settlements in low-lying locations unsuited for housing result from the urban drift from outer islands." The urban drift referred to is the move many people are making to the city for better living and money. An effort to improve settlements in outer islands could dramatically help, which is exciting because I finally feel like my potential project might be of use to more than just me.

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