Climate-Induced Disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region: Response, Recovery, Adaptation: Volume 22

Cover of Climate-Induced Disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region: Response, Recovery, Adaptation

Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xvi
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Abstract

Multi-risk environments pose challenges for rural and coastal communities in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly with regard to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation strategies. While much research has been published on disaster response and recovery for specific climate-related hazards in the region, such as cyclones, floods and droughts, there is a growing need for insight into how communities respond, recover and adapt to the multiple, intersecting risks posed by environmental, societal and economic change. This chapter frames the body of new research presented in this book from the perspective of multi-risk environments, paying particular attention to concepts central to the disaster response and recovery cycle, and rejecting the notion of a distinct boundary between climate and society. Further, this introductory chapter foregrounds the importance of cultural values, power relations, Indigenous knowledge systems, local networks and community-based adaptive capacities when considering resilience, recovery and adaptation to climate-induced disasters at the community and household level. Overviews of the research presented in this book demonstrate a diverse range of responses and adaptive strategies at the local level in case studies from Solomon Islands, Fiji, Cambodia and Samoa, as well as implications for policy, planning and management.

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Disasters are increasingly depicted as unique opportunities to ‘build back better’, to make communities more ‘resilient’ and to address pre-existing ‘vulnerabilities’. This has seen international disaster risk reduction (DRR) and recovery frameworks attempt to link short-term relief efforts with long-term development objectives while at the same time ensuring active community participation, local knowledge inclusion and ownership. This chapter looks at how ‘build back better’ – which became institutionalised through the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – attempts to reconcile normative concepts of ‘better’ with diverse place-based needs, interests and knowledge. Through an analysis of three United Nations DRR frameworks from 1994 to 2015, the chapter tracks how disasters have been constructed as opportunities for development, and asks whether the post-disaster context is the right time for implementing development agendas given the potential for recovery to be co-opted by dominant development ideologies.

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This chapter presents an exploration of the ways in which humanitarian non-government organisations (NGOs) and communities affected by the 2014 floods in Solomon Islands interpreted and responded to the disaster, identifying factors that assisted and constrained stakeholders in disaster response and recovery. The research investigates the extent to which communities were consulted and participated in NGO responses, and the factors which informed community–NGO relationships. A qualitative case study approach was used, employing interviews, focus groups and document analysis, guided by a reflexive discourse analysis and narrative inquiry approach, which places the focus of the study on the experiences of participants. Communities played very limited roles in NGO responses, especially non-dominant or marginalised sectors of society, such as youth, women and people with disabilities. Failure to respond appropriately to the differentiated needs of affected populations can exacerbate their risk of experiencing secondary disaster. The authors argue that there is a need to improve the inclusiveness of responses to disaster, engaging women, youth and people with disabilities in decision making in order to respond more appropriately to their needs.

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The Ba River catchment and delta on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji, supports a wealth of livelihoods and is populated by diverse communities who are living with an increased frequency and intensity of hydro-meteorological hazards (floods, cyclones and droughts). Participatory mapping as part of focus group discussions is a tool that can be used to elucidate communities’ understanding of the differing impacts of multiple hazards, as well as the strategies used to prepare and respond to different hazards. In this chapter, the authors present the results of qualitative research undertaken with members of three communities along the Ba River, from the Nausori highlands to the coastal mangroves, with a particular focus on recent floods (2009, 2012) and Tropical Cyclone Winston (2016). The communities draw on a wide range of livelihood strategies from fishing and agriculture to tourism and outside work. Natural hazard events vary in their impact on these livelihood strategies across the landscape and seascape, so that community members can adjust their activities accordingly. The temporal ‘signatures’ of ongoing impacts are also variable across communities and resources. The results suggest that taking a broad, landscape (and seascape) approach to understanding how communities draw livelihoods is valuable in informing effective and inclusive adaptation strategies for environmental change. Furthermore, documenting how the landscape is used in a mapped output may be a valuable tool for future social impact assessment for resource extraction activities.

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This chapter explores the local narration of gendered experience of disasters in two iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) communities, Votua and Navala, both located in the Ba River catchment, Fiji. The methodology consisted of semi-formal interviews, talanoa, mapping sessions and journal entries from community members in Votua and Navala. Local narratives of post-disaster response and recovery in the aftermath of 2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston showed that women were not perceived as embodying a heightened vulnerability to disasters in comparison to men in either Votua or Navala. Rather perceptions of vulnerability were based on the experiences of those who physically struggled, such as people with disabilities, the elderly and those who had lost their homes. While gender roles and responsibilities underlay perceptions and gender relations, the roles and responsibilities were predominantly perceived as changing over time, either to a more shared sense of responsibilities or a shift from male responsibilities to female. This shift may lay the foundations for future changes in vulnerability and experiences towards disasters.

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Climate change, deforestation and hydropower dams are contributing to environmental change in the Lower Mekong River region, the combined effects of which are felt by many rural Cambodians. How people perceive and manage the effects of environmental change will influence future adaptation strategies. The objective of this research was to investigate whether the use of a low-cost, explicitly spatial method (participatory mapping) can help identify locally relevant opportunities and challenges to climate change adaptation in small, flood-prone communities. Four villages along the banks of the Mekong River in Kratie Province, Cambodia, were the subject of this research. To identify perceived environmental hazards and adaptive responses, eight workshops were conducted using focus-group interviews and participatory mapping. The communities’ responses highlight the evolving nature of environmental hazards, as droughts increase in perceived importance while the patterns of wet season flooding were also perceived to be changing. The attribution of the drivers of these hazards was strongly skewed towards local factors such as deforestation and less towards regional or global drivers affecting the hydrology of the Mekong and climate patterns. Combining participatory mapping with focus-group interviews allowed a greater depth of understanding of the vulnerabilities and opportunities available to communities than reliance on a single qualitative method. The study highlights the potential for a bottom-up transfer of information to strengthen existing climate change policies and tailor adaptation plans to local conditions.

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The effects of environmental change are becoming more noticeable in the Lower Mekong Basin, where there is growing pressure on the agriculture-based livelihoods of communities living along the mainstream of the Mekong River. This chapter presents an investigation of temporal seasonal variability in four communities of Kratie Province, Cambodia, including identification of locally developed strategies to adapt to temporal changes in weather patterns. A mixed-methods approach was adopted, combining historical hydrometeorological data with participatory seasonal calendars and daily routine diaries. Seasonal calendars were compiled from nine workshops across four villages in Kratie Province, and daily diaries were collected from seven individuals across three villages. The results indicate that patterns in rainfall, flooding and drought have become more variable due to the impacts of environmental change; a phenomenon that will likely continue into the future. Without effective, locally appropriate adaptation measures, changing weather patterns will likely continue to have adverse impacts on communities in the region due to their reliance on reliable seasonal rainfall and flooding events for crop cultivation. Households and communities in the study region have already developed a number of approaches to mitigate the adverse impacts of environmental change. This research also reiterated the importance of incorporating both local knowledge and scientific data to gain the most accurate understanding of the impacts of environmental change in a given region.

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Private household insurance has been relatively uncommon among households in Samoa to date. Meanwhile, numerous other adaptation interventions are also being implemented, including community-based adaptation (CBA) projects which draw on the skills of the community to address the climate change-related hazards that are expected to affect local communities. Through semi-structured interviews with community members from the urban/peri-urban area around Apia (with and without insurance) and an insurance company representative, this research explores private household natural perils insurance uptake in Samoa and the effect that the uptake of this insurance has on household engagement in other climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies such as CBA projects. Findings suggest that individuals whose homes are already insured with natural perils insurance are more likely to express more individualistic values or beliefs than those without natural perils insurance. Insured homeowners commonly framed adaptation as a technical challenge, with insurance being part of the technical and expert-led approach to prepare for, manage and recover from extreme events. In contrast, householders without insurance perceived CCA as less of a technical task and more of a social process. Those individuals with private household natural perils insurance coverage (in keeping with their more individualistic values) reported that they were less engaged in CBA projects compared to participants without insurance (who held more communalistic values). Given the importance of household participation in CBA projects, an increased uptake of insurance may have problematic outcomes for the adaptive capacity of the broader community.

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‘Planned relocation’ has emerged in the international climate policy arena as an ‘adaptation’ solution with the potential to enhance resilience, address underdevelopment and debunk age-old narratives around migration as a risk to peace and security. In 2018, Fiji became one of the first countries to develop Planned Relocation Guidelines, with upwards of 80 villages thought to require relocation over the coming years due to the impact of climate change. Through interviews carried out with representatives from organisations involved in planning for community relocations in Fiji, this chapter explores the creation of planned relocation as a form of climate change adaptation and development. Looking specifically at the value-based challenges of implementation in Fiji, this research provides insight into what happens when dominant international policy narratives play out in practice. Through the presentation of culturally nuanced ways of understanding the problem of climate-induced migration, this chapter invites policymakers to seek out these voices when devising displacement solutions.

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Index

Pages 213-219
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Cover of Climate-Induced Disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region: Response, Recovery, Adaptation
DOI
10.1108/S2040-7262202022
Publication date
2020-11-09
Book series
Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83909-987-8
Book series ISSN
2040-7262