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Fight or flight? : resilience and vulnerability in rural Fiji

Increasing awareness of the likely effects of climatic change, particularly on small Island states, has had several implications for these nations. The vulnerabilities of island communities are likely to increase if climatic change predictions eventuate. However, their vulnerability has not only risen out of the physical threat that is climate change. It has also arisen out of historical processes that have structured the lives of these communities and made them more or less vulnerable. Critical importance is given to the role of social processes in rendering these communities vulnerable and when the issue of climate change is added to the social element, the degree of vulnerability is likely to be even higher. This thesis considers the experiences of two local communities in Fiji that adapted in two different ways to storm surge and coastal erosion. The village of Solodamu relocated almost its entire village while Rukua village constructed a seawall and undertook land reclamation works. The impacts that arose out of the two different measures that they embarked upon are studied here and their experiences are used as case studies. The research found that the vulnerabilities of these communities changed over time and was more the result of social processes rather than climatic change and environmental variations. The process of development, while benefiting these communities in certain ways has also increased their vulnerability and reduced their ability to cope with natural hazards and market perturbations. The growing reality that is climate change is likely to add a further dimension of vulnerability to these island communities. However, not everything is as bleak as it seems. These communities have shown resilience in the face of upheaval and continue to adapt their circumstances to fit the situation that they find themselves in.
Type of thesis
Cagilaba, V. (2005). Fight or flight? : resilience and vulnerability in rural Fiji (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13628
The University of Waikato
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