Building Resiliency to Natural Hazards in Pacific Island Communities

By Stephen Russell, Leone Limalevu, Gurmeet Singh and Raghuvar Pathak.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reports on a program to investigate the main factors affecting livelihoods in rural villages around Fiji in order to determine the resilience of the various communities to major climate change sensitive disasters such as cyclones, storm surges, floods, and sea level rises.
The study is funded through the Global Development Network (GDN) Global Development Awards program, and is designed to elicit from a variety of Pacific Island community members the traditional means for ensuring sustainable and resilient livelihoods in the presence of significant risks from natural hazards. While hydro meteorological events such as cyclones have been a feature of life in many Pacific Island communities for aeons, current research indicates that storms will increase in intensity. As the destructive power of storms is very sensitive to intensity, the implication is that the communities hit by future storms will need to be better prepared than ever before. This comes at a time when the resilience of communities is actually in decline – bio-diversity is decreasing, land use management practices are damaging coastal areas, and social networks are degrading – to name a few factors.
Nine communities around Fiji have been surveyed to assess the various attributes that determine resilience in a household and in a community, and how they would cope in case of a severe storm. These data have been analysed to determine relative measures of resilience between the sample villages. This is at once a chance to record traditional methods of living and an assessment of how traditional knowledge may be shared to better prepare communities for dealing with hazard events, and potential disasters in the future.

Keywords: Climate Change, Hydro Meteorological Hazards, Resilience, Pacific Island Communities, Fiji

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.11-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.239MB).

Dr. Stephen Russell

Senior Lecturer, Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Dr. Stephen Russell is Senior Lecturer in systems engineering at the Defence And Systems Institute at the University of South Australia. He holds a doctorate in astronomy, and was Senior Systems Engineer and Operations Manager on the Australian FedSat project. Prior to joining DASI, Stephen was Senior Technology Coordinator at the Australasian Centre for Policing Research. His current research interests include the application of systems engineering techniques to disaster management and recovery, and using agent based modelling and soft systems methodologies to promote resilience of communities to hydrometeorological hazards.

Leone Limalevu

Research Assistant (Climate Change Project), PACE, University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Mr. Limalevu is employed as a Research Assistant for an AusAID funded climate change adaptation project, executed jointly by the Pacific Centre for Environment & Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) and the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) of the University of the South Pacific. This is a pilot project on the implementation of climate change adaptation in six rural communities within Fiji and focuses on coastal areas and water resources.

Dr. Gurmeet Singh

Senior Lecturer and Acting Head, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Dr. Singh served as member Board of Studies in Commerce and Management, member Syndicate, member, member Board of Research Studies at GND University. Besides active participation in the academic deliberations in the national and international conferences and seminars in India, US, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand and Ethiopia addressed the audience from many countries quite frequently in different academic meets at several Ethiopian, Indian, Fijian and Tanzanian universities. Acted as a course coordinator for Marketing (Undergraduate and graduate programs) at Addis Ababa University. Was a group leader for World Bank funded DFL project at Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Acting as a Head, School of Management and Public Administration, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji during 2006 and 2007.

Raghuvar Pathak

Professor, School of Management & Public Administration, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

RD Pathak is Professor at Faculty of Business and Economics. His research interests include: leadership, organizational culture, creativity, technology management, management education & entrepreneurship, and Disaster management. He has more than 25 years of postgraduate (MBA) teaching experience and has published 3 research based books and more than 80 research papers in reputable journals.


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