Coping with extreme weather events on remote islands - experiences on outer islands of Fiji and Tonga (7449)
The combination of climate change impacts such as sea level rise and increasing severity of tropical cyclones will affect small island developing states acutely. Some of these impacts are already being felt, with changes in the season and behaviour of cyclones, and shorelines being steadily eroded away. This increases the need to ensure and enhance the effectiveness of responses to these disasters, from all involved - governments, aid organisations and the affected communities. There is a growing realisation of the connections between development and sustainability and that one essential element will be to better align disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts, to lessen the likelihood that these extreme weather events become disasters in the first place. For the outer islands in these countries, the wait for help after a cyclone is counted in weeks, not days. So while the growth in the aid industry impacts the main islands in particular ways, the experience on more remote, outer islands may be different. These communities have no choice but to exhibit self-reliance and resilience, building on traditional knowledge and past experiences with extreme events. This presentation will provide an overview of results from a qualitative study in outer islands in Fiji and Tonga, looking at expectations of aid and adaptation to climate change. The views of government, aid organisations, and affected communities and compared and contrasted.