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Disaster response and adaptation to climate change in Fiji and Tonga : remote island perspectives


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Johnston, IC 2015 , 'Disaster response and adaptation to climate change in Fiji and Tonga : remote island perspectives', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In the South Pacific, an area prone to disasters of many kinds, tropical
cyclones are predicted to increase in strength, track length and lifespan due to
climate change. Small island developing states are going to need to adapt their
disaster response accordingly. This is particularly the case for those
communities on outer islands of these states, the remote islands within remote
countries, where vulnerability is already especially high. These communities
are out of reach of many aid organisations, and are required to be more selfreliant
and resilient than most.
This thesis investigates how the responses to disasters on remote islands
need to change and the factors affecting the capacity for this to happen. The
research focuses on remote islands in Fiji and Tonga, from the perspectives of
the communities, aid organisations and governments. It examines issues of the
growth of aid, the expectations it creates, the governance of the aid system, and
how remoteness impacts on disaster planning and response.
The research involved fieldwork in Fiji and Tonga, with stays on one
remote island in each country. Both of these islands have a history of cyclones,
including recent experience. This was followed by time in the regional and
national capitals interviewing representatives of aid organisations and
government. Included in the thesis is a reflection on the experience of doing
cross-cultural research and the importance of giving voice to communities that
are often left out of this kind of research.
The research found that a number of variables – such as remoteness, the
highly gendered structures of decision-making, differential use of traditional
knowledge, and contradictory aid expectations – directly and indirectly affect
the preparedness and adequacy of remote island responses to natural disasters
such as cyclones. This has a number of significant ramifications in the light of
predicted transformations associated with climate change.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Johnston, IC
Keywords: climate change adaptation, disaster management, remote islands, Pacific
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2015 the author

Additional Information:

A section of chapter 3 was published as: Johnston, I., 2015, Let them feed him biscuits: doing fieldwork in Fiji with the family, Forum: qualitative social research, 16(1), Article 17, 1-13 under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Chapter 5 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-print article finally published as: Johnston, I., 2015, Traditional warning signs of cyclones on remote islands in Fiji and Tonga, Environmental hazards, 14(3), 210-223. The Version of Record of this manuscript is available at 10.1080/17477891.2015.1046156

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