The Role of Social Capital in Post-Flood Response and Recovery among Downstream Communities of the Ba River, Western Viti Levu, Fiji Islands

Risks and Conflicts: Local Responses to Natural Disasters

ISBN: 978-1-78190-820-4, eISBN: 978-1-78190-821-1

ISSN: 2040-7262

Publication date: 13 August 2014

Abstract

Floods are among the most significant and frequent hazards to affect communities in the downstream part of the Ba River in Western Viti Levu, Fiji Islands. They often leave in their wake displacements and death putting thousands at risk of sliding into poverty. Using the recent 2009 and 2012 floods, we examine how social capital aids in post-disaster response and recovery among residents in five selected villages in the downstream communities of the Ba River. Data were collected from a questionnaire survey administered to 97 households and semi-structured interviews with a further 20 respondents. It is conventionally believed that moving supplies, aid and expertise into flood-affected areas offers the best path to effective response and recovery. By contrast, our results indicate that residents of downstream communities in Ba District are using four approaches to create and deploy social capital among them to facilitate disaster response. The patterns of social capital used for effective response include practices of search and rescue, information, mutual assistance and commercial cooperation. Such strategies help to build resilience at household and community levels and reduce risks of loss of life and costly damage to property. The findings can be used to generate policies concerning the integration of social capital as a component of flood disaster response and recovery mechanisms.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the residents in Ba District who spared their time to participate in this study amidst their trauma of recovering from the January 2012 flood. Villagers in Votua community kindly shared their written essays and their photos during the follow-up fieldwork in September 2012. Funding for the study was provided through a grant from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment of the University of the South Pacific (USP), Fiji, and through a grant-in-aid by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) for the research project “Integrated Assessment of Post-Disaster Recovery in Coastal Communities in Asia-Pacific” (JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24401007).

Citation

Yila, O., Weber, E. and Neef, A. (2014), "The Role of Social Capital in Post-Flood Response and Recovery among Downstream Communities of the Ba River, Western Viti Levu, Fiji Islands", Risks and Conflicts: Local Responses to Natural Disasters (Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 79-107. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2040-7262(2013)0000014010

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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