University of Tasmania
Johnston_whole_thesis_ex_pub_mat.pdf (8.42 MB)

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

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:11 authored by Johnston, IC
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 ‚Äö- such as remoteness, the highly gendered structures of decision-making, differential use of traditional knowledge, and contradictory aid expectations ‚Äö- 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.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 the author 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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  • Open

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