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Island societies are being disproportionately affected by climate change, a situation likely to continue for some decades. Using an example of an island affected by multiple climate-linked stressors, a situation likely to become more common in the future, this paper examines the nature of these, the ways they are perceived and responded to by local residents, and how these people believe environmental changes might unfold in the future. Yadua Island has one settlement (Denimanu), where most of the 170 residents sustain themselves largely by fishing and farming. Like most Pacific Island settlements, Denimanu is coastal and has experienced progressive shoreline erosion that, a decade ago, washed away a row of houses. In 2012, a storm surge (during Tropical Cyclone Evan) demolished most of the remaining bure (traditional dwellings) in the village. The Fiji Government relocated the affected families to a new upslope location (Korovou), 80–230 m from the beach, and up to 20 m above mean sea level. In March 2017, heavy rain caused a landslide at the back of Denimanu that endangered the primary school, forcing its abandonment. Some questionnaires were given to representative members of the community in an attempt to understand and quantify the pressures that Yadua Island people are subject to, and how they plan to manage them. All respondents believed that climate change has affected their livelihoods and will continue to do so in the future. Clear majorities stated that climate change – especially higher temperatures and increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-rain events – had negatively affected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods. Most respondents noted increased temperature and decreased precipitation. Clear majorities stated they would eventually relocate their homes further inland, and would consider planting mangroves. Most participants were contemplating the effects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production further inland and planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash. The people of Denimanu recognise how the environment has been changing but debate the ultimate cause of this and therefore how best to respond. It is likely that Yadua will become impacted more by tropical cyclones and sea-level rise (in particular) in the future. To be effective and sustainable, adaptation strategies should acknowledge residents’ worldviews and beliefs rather than try to uncritically substitute them.
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Climate Risk Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/crm
Responding to multiple climate-linked stressors in a remote island
context: The example of Yadua Island, Fiji
Piérick C.M. Martin
a,
, Patrick Nunn
b
, Javier Leon
a
, Neil Tindale
a
a
School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
b
Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
ARTICLE INFO
Keywords:
Small Island Developing States
Fiji
Sea-level rise
Climate change
Environmental risk
Landslides
ABSTRACT
Island societies are being disproportionately aected by climate change, a situation likely to
continue for some decades. Using an example of an island aected by multiple climate-linked
stressors, a situation likely to become more common in the future, this paper examines the nature
of these, the ways they are perceived and responded to by local residents, and how these people
believe environmental changes might unfold in the future. Yadua Island has one settlement
(Denimanu), where most of the 170 residents sustain themselves largely by shing and farming.
Like most Pacic Island settlements, Denimanu is coastal and has experienced progressive
shoreline erosion that, a decade ago, washed away a row of houses. In 2012, a storm surge
(during Tropical Cyclone Evan) demolished most of the remaining bure (traditional dwellings) in
the village. The Fiji Government relocated the aected families to a new upslope location
(Korovou), 80230 m from the beach, and up to 20 m above mean sea level. In March 2017,
heavy rain caused a landslide at the back of Denimanu that endangered the primary school,
forcing its abandonment. Some questionnaires were given to representative members of the
community in an attempt to understand and quantify the pressures that Yadua Island people are
subject to, and how they plan to manage them. All respondents believed that climate change has
aected their livelihoods and will continue to do so in the future. Clear majorities stated that
climate change especially higher temperatures and increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-
rain events had negatively aected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods. Most respondents
noted increased temperature and decreased precipitation. Clear majorities stated they would
eventually relocate their homes further inland, and would consider planting mangroves. Most
participants were contemplating the eects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food
supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production further inland and
planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash. The
people of Denimanu recognise how the environment has been changing but debate the ultimate
cause of this and therefore how best to respond. It is likely that Yadua will become impacted
more by tropical cyclones and sea-level rise (in particular) in the future. To be eective and
sustainable, adaptation strategies should acknowledge residentsworldviews and beliefs rather
than try to uncritically substitute them.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2018.04.003
Received 22 March 2018; Received in revised form 20 April 2018; Accepted 30 April 2018
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: pcm004@student.usc.edu.au (P.C.M. Martin).
Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
Available online 18 May 2018
2212-0963/ © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/).
T
1. Introduction
Climate change is the principal expression of a naturally occurring cycle manifested as the alternation between major ice ages and
interglacial periods. Yet since the early 20th century, a near-unanimous scientic consensus agrees that anthropogenically-generated
greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Earths climate. Climate changes observed since the 1950s have been recognised as
unprecedented and likely to continue into the foreseeable future (IPCC, 2014). The rate of sea-level rise is projected to keep in-
creasing with continued global warming and, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stopped and temperatures stabilise, sea level is
expected to continue rising for centuries (Mengel et al., 2016). Human societies are vulnerable to climate change and the risks it
poses. Climate change may exacerbate ongoing social and economic challenges, particularly in those parts of the world where
societies depend closely on natural resources (Adger et al., 2013).
Oceanic-island societies experience similar pressures to continental societies but their vulnerability is exacerbated by compara-
tively limited physical space, high insularity ratios, exposure to natural hazards, small watersheds, limited terrestrial biodiversity,
narrow range of land resources, and often limited funds and human capacity for addressing livelihood challenges (Albert et al., 2016;
Albert et al., 2017; Briguglio, 2003; Nunn, 2009b; Wong, 2011). Additionally, islands are often comparatively highly exposed to
feedback eects between society and environment (Bunce et al., 2009; Nunn and Kumar, 2017). Using the example of a compara-
tively remote and resource-constrained community, this paper looks at how a typical island society has been aected by and has
responded to multiple climate-linked stressors. This example is considered a glimpse into a situation that is likely to become more
common in the future and is therefore instructive to those seeking to manage the associated climate risks eectively and sus-
tainably.
1.1. Tropical Pacic islands and climate change
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) located in the tropics, such as the Fiji Islands, are exposed to cyclones and damaging winds,
tsunamis and coastal oods, each of which has the potential to severely impact the local economy (subsistence and commercial),
residential and agricultural areas, transport and communication services, and cause injuries or death to large numbers of people (Lau
et al., 2017, Weir and Virani, 2011). In tropical Pacic SIDS, most people live in rural areas and depend largely on their local
environments marine and terrestrial for foods they consume routinely. Although Fiji has an uncommonly high degree of urba-
nization compared to other Pacic SIDS, its rural coastal communities are typical of thousands throughout the tropical Pacic islands
that are already feeling some eects of rising sea level and are expected to be more profoundly impacted by this in the next
2030 years (Lata and Nunn, 2012; McNamara and Des Combes, 2015; Moceituba and Tsang, 2015).
The ocean around Fijis islands has been rising at about 5.5 mm/year since 1992, almost twice the global average (Friel et al.,
2011; Wairiu et al., 2012). Sea-level rise has caused widespread shoreline erosion, groundwater salinization and has increased the
incidence and magnitude of coastal ooding (Woodruet al., 2013). Compared to the 19852005 average, models project that sea
level around Fiji will have risen by 818 cm by the year 2030 and 4188 cm by the year 2090 (Church et al., 2013). Other modelling
approaches suggest sea level by the end of this century may be almost 200 cm higher (Jevrejeva et al., 2014). Whatever scenario is
adopted, it seems inevitable that sea-level rise in Fiji will accelerate over the next few decades, posing increasing challenges for those
people living along island coasts, as well as the activities they pursue there.
In many coastal areas around the world, there is a signicant gap between scientically-determined risk and perceived risk (Mills
et al., 2016). This gap, in Fiji and elsewhere, frustrates the development of eective and sustainable adaptation strategies for climate
change. It has also been attributed to a lack of awareness about both the nature of scientic projections and their localization, as well
as cultural controls on the perception of risk (Johnston, 2014; Lata and Nunn, 2012). The latter includes short-term planning per-
spectives, spiritual beliefs, and traditional governance structures. For example, in the Rewa River Delta (southeast Viti Levu Island,
Fiji), questioning of local residents revealed that while few people knew about climate change and what caused it, many recognized
the current nature of its (anomalous) manifestations, particularly more frequent ooding and progressive groundwater salinization
(Lata and Nunn, 2012). Further, as in many traditionally communal subsistence societies, individual actions and beliefs are com-
monly subordinated to community leaders (in Fiji, these include hereditary chiefs and spiritual leaders) so that communal decision-
making is often slow to catch up with contemporary (scientic) understanding of observed environmental changes and how best to
respond to these (Nunn, 2009a).
Extreme weather events aect Fiji regularly. Natural disasters such as cyclones, oods, kingtides, earthquakes, tsunamis and
droughts regularly impact the major socio-economic sectors and consequently aect the quality of life of many rural communities
(McNamara and Prasad, 2014). Yet these communities have a long tradition of implementing strategies to cope with extreme
weather, such as particular planting techniques and innovative water storage and food preservation practices. Local experiences and
knowledge have proved essential for sustaining Fijis communities for three millennia. Today, with the growing threats of climate
change, they remain important for community-based responses to extreme weather events, something that may be important when
outside help, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters, proves sometimes unreliable or too slow (Johnston, 2014; McNamara
and Prasad, 2014).
2. Yadua Island, Fiji, and its climate-linked stressors
Comprising over 300 habitable islands, of which about 70 are permanently occupied today, the Fiji Islands are located in the
Southwest Pacic Ocean (Fig. 1). Most of the nearly 900,000 people live on the two largest islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
8
although communities of largely iTaukei Fijians (the indigenous people of the Fiji Islands - predominantly Melanesian) occupy their
traditional lands on smaller oshore islands. Situated some 20 km west of Vanua Levu and 60 km north of Viti Levu, Yadua is one
such island. A Lapita study suggests that Yadua Island was rst occupied approximately 2600 years ago (Nunn et al., 2005). Yadua is
famed as a sanctuary (on oshore Yaduataba Island) for an endemic iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis)(Harlow and Biciloa, 2001). It has
a reputation as an extremely dry island, given its location within the rain shadow of Vanua Levu (Fig. 1). The only village on Yadua is
Denimanu, which has a population of some 170 people who rely almost exclusively on shing and farming to sustain themselves.
Revenue from the lucrative bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber) shery has recently been curtailed by government regulation following its
almost total depletion in the area (Lalavanua et al., 2017).
Owing to its tropical oceanic location, Fiji is susceptible to tropical cyclones (TCs), which generally occur annually but are often
more common and stronger during La Niña events (Chand and Walsh, 2011). Strong winds characterize such phenomena; Severe TC
Winston in February 2016 packed the strongest winds ever recorded in the southern hemisphere (Anonymous, 2016; Gard and
Veitayaki, 2017). Sea-level rise over the past few decades has inevitably amplied the eects of such tropical cyclones (Woodru
et al., 2013). Yet cyclone-induced storm surges, whose eects hinge primarily on coastal geometries, often have the more severe and
enduring impacts for coastal communities like that of Denimanu on Yadua Island.
Sea-level rise has long been regarded as the principal cause of the widespread shoreline (coastal) erosion which has been ex-
perienced along most soft-sediment (non-atoll) Pacic island coasts in recent decades (Barbier, 2015; Nunn, 1990). A 1998 study of
29 coastal villages on Viti Levu Island (Fiji) found that 27 had been experiencing shoreline erosion (Mimura and Nunn, 1998). A
similar study of Ovalau and Moturiki islands (Fiji) found that all but three of the 22 coastal settlements were experiencing shoreline
erosion, the exceptions being those that had deliberately not cut down their coastal mangrove forests (Nunn, 2000).
Given that Yadua is a moderately high volcanic island (200 m amsl), often with characteristically deep-weathered soils, and
typically only lightly vegetated (with grassland-savanna) in its higher parts, it is uncommonly susceptible to land instability, espe-
cially during torrential rain such as occurs during TCs. In addition, while many food gardens are located in lower parts of Yadua,
increasing population and the imperative of producing surpluses (especially as cyclone reserves) of key staples has led many farmers
in recent decades to open up inland and upland parts of the island for smallholder agriculture. This process has involved clearing
vegetation cover, usually by burning, a process that typically exposes more ground, than will be replanted, to instability (Wairiu,
2017).
3. Methods
Data such as precise topographic maps, historical records of climate and mean sea levels, land use pattern is a commodity that
is dicult to access in countries like Fiji. This meant that common methodologies could not be used; thus, other important resources
were needed, such as traditional knowledge, memories and experiences of the local people. Indigenous people have been living in the
same locations for generations and have observed environmental changes in real time; making them an eective source of in-
formation. Combining in-situ observations and traditional knowledge, an overall picture could be drawn of Yadua Islands vulner-
ability.
Fig. 1. Map of Yadua Island showing places mentioned in text; mangrove areas are in green. Inset shows the location of Yadua within the Fiji Islands
group; most Fijians live on Viti Levu Island where the major cities are located.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
9
Yadu Island was chosen for its lack of scientic literature, for being one of just two communities that have relocated due to
climate-attributable causes in Fiji; and because of a report by other researchers, following their visit to Denimanu in January 2017,
stating that the community is aected by rising sea level, and had recently experienced extreme weather events. Denimanu was
perceived as a well-run community, not known for avariciousness, with clean water, a health centre and the presence of several older
residents willing to share their story.
Over a two-week period in September 2017, a survey of Yadua Island residents was conducted in order to determine their
perceptions about recent environmental changes and their views concerning the future. The basis of this survey was a 24-question
questionnaire, selected and handed out by turaga-ni-koro (village headman) to 15 representative members of the community; answers
to which were completed by the hereditary chief, several farmers and divers, the school principal, the nurse, the resident Methodist
pastor, and the turaga-ni-koro. The questionnaire explored such topics as ood damage, sea-level rise, and drought; cyclone frequency
and intensity; changes in temperature, precipitation; vegetation change and food availability (plants and animals, marine and ter-
restrial); the eects of environmental change on livelihoods; and their views of future livelihood sustainability. Paper questionnaires
were given out to all interviewees who lled them in at their leisure. Responses were supplemented by informal individual and group
discussions, generally fuelled by kava (yaqona) consumption that creates cultural contexts in rural Fiji settings, which are suitable for
information exchange (McNaught et al., 2014; Turner, 1992).
4. The 2017 survey: content, results and insights
In September 2017, the people of Yadua identied and communicated certain concerns, nding themselves bueted by the forces
of globalization, constrained in their commercial aspirations by geography (distance to markets) and by regulation, while increas-
ingly impacted by climate change. Three major aspects of climate-change impacts are identied as especially aecting the people of
Yadua tropical cyclones (rain, winds and storm surge), shoreline erosion, and landslides each of which is discussed separately
below.
For this community, it was TC Evan in December 2012 that had the most enduring eects, washing away a large part of the
shoreline along the front of Denimanu and destroying two rows of houses in the process. Following this event, which displaced 19
families, the Government of Fiji developed an upslope site and built new houses for these families, each new house with its own water
tank and solar panel for basic energy needs (Fig. 2A, B). The new settlement (Korovou) is just 250 m away from the old one.
Shoreline erosion is noticeable along most coasts on Yadua Island and can be attributed to the slow-onset eects of recent sea-
level rise, periodically amplied during rapid-onset events such as storm surge and tsunami. Erosion of the shoreline at Denimanu has
been ongoing for several decades, often progressing more rapidly during storm-surge events. Elderly informants recalled when a row
of houses along the Denimanu shore front was abandoned in 20067 as a result of progressive erosion, although in 2004 there was
little sign of erosion (Fig. 3A). Two rows of houses were destroyed in a few hours during TC Evan in 2012 (see above). Today, the
eroding shoreline is only a few metres from the edge of another row of houses (Fig. 3B); the sea often oods part of the village during
high spring tides.
While numerous landslides were clearly visible on the steep slopes at the back of the pockets of coastal plain, along the edges of
Yadua, the most memorable was that which occurred in March 2017 and destroyed two of the buildings comprising the islands
primary school (Fig. 4A, B). Schoolchildren have since been instructed in tents (provided by UNICEF) within the main part of
Denimanu.
All respondents recognized the eects of sea-level rise, believing that climate change more generally has aected their livelihoods
and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Clear majorities stated that climate change especially higher temperatures and
increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-rain events had negatively aected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods in, what the
community regarded as, unprecedented ways. Most respondents noted temperature rise and considered that annual precipitation had
decreased, making Yadua hotter and drier than it once was. The latter observations are especially credible in communities like
Denimanu where most history is preserved and communicated orally.
Younger participants (< 40) noticed a decrease in plant production, whereas older participants saw a decrease. However, wild
animal numbers are said to have decreased according to younger respondents, while older ones think theyve increased. The young
preferred to plant mangrove, the old to build seawall. The vast majority of older participants were much more inclined to relocating
homes and crops than the younger respondents.
Interestingly, no consensus was found among respondents about whether plant/food production had increased (per unit area) or
decreased. And while almost all respondents averred that owering/fruiting seasons had changed, they were split almost evenly as to
the direction of this. A lack of readily-discernible change in tropical-cyclone and drought frequency was also reected in the split in
Yadua respondent answers. In contrast, a majority considered average cyclone intensity to have increased or remained the same.
In terms of responding to climate change, most participants stated they would eventually relocate their homes further inland, and
would consider planting mangroves along the Denimanu shore front to absorb wave energy. Clear majorities were contemplating the
eects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production
further inland and planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash.
Through wide-ranging dialogue with Denimanu residents, it became clear that there was an undercurrent of anxiety among key
decision-makers in the community about what the recent environmental changes (the shoreline erosion and the landslide) might
signify. While accepting that there were proximal causes (the storm surge and heavy rain respectively) for these events, much
discussion also focused on possible ultimate causes. In societies like those in rural Fiji, where almost everyone is spiritually engaged,
it is understandable that ultimate causes often concern deities and peoples behaviour towards them. In the case of Christian
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
10
Denimanu, the view that these environmental changes had been sent by Godto punish the people for the indierent nature of their
worship was one often aired, although there seemed to be no consensus. This is a contrast to other similar communities in the rural
Asia-Pacic where religious leaders in particular have been quick to seize on environmental impacts as evidence of a need for an
increase in piety and adherence to particular religious mores (Gerten and Bergmann, 2012; Chester and Duncan, 2008).
Such sentiments typically contrasted with more secular discussions, generally initiated by younger community members, about
the role of government and aid agencies in helping communities like Denimanu to cope with the aftermath of disaster. The view was
expressed, particularly by people with prolonged exposure to city life (in Fiji and elsewhere) that it was the job of governmentto
help (or facilitate help for) people in such situations. The view was expressed that Fiji was a poor countrythat should be helped by
other richer ones in times of crisis. The government initiative of building 19 houses at Korovou was generally lauded although some
community members bemoaned their perception that these houses were quickly built and the slope was inadequately drained.
As appears to be common after successive disasters have impacted the same community, the people of Denimanu, when ques-
tioned in 2017, considered themselves both fortunate and unfortunate. They were fortunate because they had received reasonably
prompt assistance from the Government of Fiji after the damage caused by TC Evan in 2012, assistance that had made the community
the envy of others. To date only two climate-attributable relocations have taken place in Fiji Vunidogoloa (Cakaudrove) in 2014 and
Denimanu (Bua) in 2016 (Charan et al., 2017; Tronquet, 2015). The tents provided by the Government for the temporary rehousing of
the primary school were considered a stop-gap measure and the community was eager for a new school to be built in a safer location.
Yet they were unfortunate because they felt that they had been singled out to be impacted by successive disasters (shoreline loss,
storm-surge, landslide) and felt anxious about whether they would continue to be so in the future.
5. Discussion
Using the example of a comparatively remote and resource-constrained community, this paper looked at how a typical island
society has been aected by and has responded to multiple climate-linked stressors. It seems likely that future climate change will
provide continued challenges for the Denimanu (Yadua Island) community. This community has strengths and weaknesses, the
Fig. 2. Photos of the newsettlement (Korovou) built in 2016 to rehouse residents of Denimanu that were displaced following storm-surge impacts
during Tropical Cyclone Evan in 2012. Photo A shows the entire settlement of Korovou stretching down the volcanic slope of the island. Photo B
shows three of the new houses, each with water tanks and solar panels. Photos by Patrick Nunn.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
11
recognition of which could help inure them against future climate-change impacts. This section explains the likely nature of those
impacts, then lists the strengths and weaknesses before outlining a way forward.
Compared to the last 50 years, the average frequency of TCs is likely to decrease, but the average intensity is expected to increase
(and therefore be more damaging) (Albert et al., 2016; Antonellini et al., 2008; Brysse et al., 2013; Greenbaum et al., 1995; IPCC,
2014; Kumar et al., 2006; Nunn, 2007; Nunn, 2013; Walsh et al., 2016). Unfortunately, Yadua is located on the northwest side of the
Fiji archipelago from which most TCs approach, so it appears likely that the island will again be impacted, as it was during TC Evan,
at least every 510 years over the next few decades.
Sea level is highly likely to continue rising, its rate increasing, over the remainder of the 21st century and beyond. Lowland areas,
like the present coastal fringe of Denimanu, are likely to become less readily habitable as sea level rises, causing shoreline retreat and
increasingly-frequent lowland ooding in such places. It is likely that extreme wave-events (storm surges) will exacerbate the rate of
shoreline retreat in such places.
Comparably to TCs, heavy-rain events are likely to decrease in frequency but increase in intensity (Brown et al., 2017). This will
likely continue to contribute to land instability on Yadua. Complementary trends, like the clearing of grassland-savanna upslope for
the planting of new food gardens, are likely to amplify the exposure of such places to rain-associated land instability.
Ranged against such issues is the knowledge of the Yadua people about how the environment they occupy has changed and is
likely to change in the future. Their familiarity with the island makes them best placed to decide on the optimal adaptation options
for coping with likely future environmental changes. This familiarity includes practical knowledge about how to reduce shoreline
exposure (through mangrove planting, for example) and upland erosion/exposure (through maintaining vegetation coverage around
food gardens). It also includes historical knowledge, something that is less commonly discussed in such communities in the authors
experience. Yet historical knowledge about where people once lived and why, and why they moved from there to their present
villages is something that can be helpful in adapting to future climate change. For example, some communities that were located
formerly (pre-colonization) inland were moved involuntarily to the coast by colonial ocials for ease of access, even though their
historical locations were known as places where their exposure to short-onset environmental change was minimal; a well-docu-
mented example comes from Vanuatu (Siméoni and Ballu, 2012). On Yadua Island, rst occupied approximately 2600 years ago, the
inhabitants lived in coastal settlements until about 700 years ago when a sudden sea-level and climate change pushed them to
Fig. 3. The changing coast of Yadua Island. Photo A shows the shoreline at Denimanu in June 2004 when there were many houses on a grassy at
just behind the high-tide mark. Photo B shows the coast at Denimanu in September 2017 when most of the houses shown in A had been destroyed
and the coastal at reduced signicantly in size; the location of Korovou (see Fig. 2) is also shown. Photos by Patrick Nunn.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
12
relocate upland. A few centuries later, along with the arrival of the British colonizers, the inhabitants resettled on the coast. In
addition, it has been suggested that historical knowledge held in such communities about the fact they moved location in the past is
itself useful as a way of initiating discussions about future relocation (Janif et al., 2016).
The gap between scientically-determined risk and perceived risk in Denimanu is similar to that of other SIDS. In the Caribbean
for example, recent studies showed that, like in Yadu, respondents felt powerless in the face of climate change, attributing blame and
control to governments and God respectively. Conversely, the Carribean participants did not see the immediacy of climate-change
and its threats, unlike the people of Denimanu (Baptiste, 2018; Baptiste and Thomas, 2018; Smith, 2018).
From an outsiders perspective, the weaknessesof such communities is often considered to lie in their lack of exposure to climate-
change science, the lack of an adequate community governance framework for driving optimal adaptation, and their privileging of
spiritual over secular beliefs, especially those relating to causation (Jones and Boyd, 2011; Kuruppu and Willie, 2015). The insiders
perspective may be quite dierent because it is contextualized within a non-western worldview, it is frequently overlooked and little
attempt made to engage with it: something likely to explain why so many climate-change adaptation initiatives over the past three
decades in the Pacic islands have failed (McNamara, 2013; Nunn et al., 2014).
Clearly there needs to be a genuine eort to develop partnerships for adaptation with communities such as that of Denimanu on
Yadua in order to produce strategies that are eective and likely to be sustained by the key players into the foreseeable future; good
examples of such a novel approach come from Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji (Dumaru, 2010; Nunn et al., forthcoming). The
theories and processes used to implement a community-based approach (CBA) involve participation in development, community-
based natural resource management, and community-based disaster risk management. The expected outcomes are a renewed focus on
community adaptive management of natural resources, increased awareness of climate change, and an increase in the communitys
access to resources from external organizations (Dumaru, 2010).
6. Conclusion
For communities like Denimanu on Yadua Island, that have experienced the eects of multiple climate-linked stressors within a
short period of time, there are three main points of interest and relevance to climate risk managers.
Fig. 4. The landslide that occurred behind Denimanu in March 2017 necessitating the abandonment of the islands primary school. Photo A shows
the view of the landslide from the sea (Photo by Piérick Martin). Photo B shows the upper part of the landslide with a school building on the right
(Photo by Patrick Nunn).
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
13
First, there is the likelihood that this situation represents one that will become increasingly common in (island) countries like Fiji
over the next decade or so as the pace/impact of climate change ratchets upwards. So, understanding how such communities ra-
tionalize the concatenation of disasterand how this aects their resilience to such events is important to understand, not least
because community coping ability is key to sustaining rural livelihoods in a changed climate.
Second, it is important to understand how communities like Denimanu see their responsibility for responding to the eects of
multiple stressors: what, for instance, they see as their own job to address and what they see as their governments responsibility,
even that of its external (donor) partners. In other words, to what degree do communities like Denimanu regard themselves as
normallyor abnormallyimpacted? In modern Denimanu, there is no consensus, yet an underlying age divide between older
residents who veer towards total self-suciency and younger ones who see the communitys ability to cope with successive disasters
as nite and therefore dependent on external assistance.
Third, there is the issue of a communitys capacity and willingness to act fundamentally in response to multiple stressors. In the
case of Denimanu, there has been a fundamental intervention (the relocation of 19 households) that has not only attracted the
attention of other rural coastal communities in this part of Fiji but, has also stimulated some discussion with the community about
what it might do next. While we have no data on this, it does appear that discussions within the Denimanu community might
reasonably progress over the next few years to ones that consider how it might take further fundamental action to increase its
resilience to climate change impacts. Such discussion might involve reoccupying past settlement sites (like Cukuvou or Vagairiki) or
others that aord a higher degree of protection than is possible at more-exposed sites like that of modern Denimanu. Such auton-
omous relocation is likely to be iterative and small-scales, at least at rst, but is likely to become an adaptive response that is more
common in the Pacic Islands region over the next few decades.
Acknowledgements
PM and PN are grateful to the people of Denimanu on Yadua Island for their hospitality and their cooperation with this research.
We are especially thankful to Atami Ravulo, Denimanu headman, and Niko Tokainavatu (Fiji Museum) for assistance over a two-week
period on Yadua in September 2017. PM received funding for this research from the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and
Engineering at the University of the Sunshine Coast. PNs participation was funded through the Australian Research Councils Linkage
Grant LP160100941.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data associated with this article can be found, in the online version, at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2018.04.
003.
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