Initial Field Visit in Fiji

From 1-10 November 2015, the research team visited Fiji to conduct an inception workshop at the University of the South Pacific in Suva and to carry out a first phase of fieldwork in the Ba watershed in northwestern Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island.

First, the research team visited the Ba Provincial Council in Lautoka and three communities in the Ba watershed, Votua, Nawaqarua and Navala, from 2-4 November to inform the provincial authorities and local leaders about the project. All contacted authorities and leaders at provincial and community level welcomed the activities of the researchers.

The inception workshop on 5 November was organized by local co-investigator Dr. Eberhard Weber (University of the South Pacific - USP) and included senior staff members and students from the School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment at USP. The programme included a project overview, researcher introductions, review of field activities and work packages and the development of methodological frameworks.

Following the inception workshop, three post-graduate students (two students from the Development Studies programme at University of Auckland and one Fijian student) conducted a qualitative inquiry into adaptation strategies in the communities in the Ba watershed that the research team had visited prior to the inception workshop. Through a focus on the specific adaptation strategies within two communities, this study has attempted to understand adaptation relative to a localised cultural context and to examine how these adaptive practices have contributed to the building of long-term community resilience.

Altogether, 55 households were interviewed. First findings suggest the need for external actors to recognise the diversity of adaptation strategies used by local actors and institutions both in response to disaster and in preparation for future events.