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Adaptation to water scarcity in the context of climate change: A Case Study of the Nuku'alofa and Hihifo Districts, Tongatapu

For the most part, PICs and SIDS are constantly reminded of their vulnerability to climate change. Often, the increasing portrayal of island countries as vulnerable does not necessarily address what causes that vulnerability. The UNFCCC and IPCC have sought to adopt more adaptation measures alongside mitigation especially in vulnerability assessments. In the context of Tongatapu, adaptation in the water sector still holds significant political and economic challenges. This thesis explores the rural-urban adaptation experiences of residents in Nuku’alofa and Hihifo, Tongatapu, to water scarcity in the context of drought and climate change. It also seeks to investigate the role of vulnerability in the provision of aid, in reference to the PACC (Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change) water project in Hihifo. In utilising discourse analysis and analysis of semi-structured interviews and focus groups consisting of participants from Nuku’alofa and Hihifo, a range of themes emerged on the complexities of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Tonga. Hence, I sought to identify the ways that people can adapt to water scarcity in the context of drought and climate change. I draw from post structuralism, cultural geography and the vulnerability theory to uncover the discourses present in the climate change literature. It was also important to incorporate literature on sustainability and indigenous knowledge as they support better adaptation capacity in not only Tongatapu but also all of Tonga’s water sector. In particular, I examine vulnerability from a local point of view versus the views of those at the national level. In doing so, local knowledges can help shape decisions on policies regarding water and climate change. Government documents on climate change in Tonga has progressed from a vulnerability point of view to a resilience and adaptation frame of thinking. However, adaptation in the water sector is not solely a problem based on natural variability and climate change. A huge part of water problems is largely rooted on political and economic processes. This underpins the accessibility of people to water resources. This problem needs to be addressed, in order to increase the adaptive capacity of people in the rural-urban areas of Tongatapu.
Type of thesis
Fa’anunu, J. (2017). Adaptation to water scarcity in the context of climate change: A Case Study of the Nuku’alofa and Hihifo Districts, Tongatapu (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11328
University of Waikato
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