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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Fiji Ranked 15th ‘Most At Risk’ Of Environmental Disasters
United Nations report links degraded environment to natural disasters

By Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 26, 2013) – Fiji has been ranked 15th among those countries most at risk to environmental disasters following the occurrence of two major floods and the tropical cyclone in the west last year.

According to the United Nations World Risk Report (WRR) 2012, Fiji had a 13.6 percent chance of a natural disaster occurring each year.

The study, carried out by the United Nations University, points out the link between environmental degradation and natural disasters.

The study showed that "as the WRR 2012 points out, it has been well established that, for example, agribusiness increases soil erosion, and that the loss of mangroves and wetlands alongside rivers remove natural protection against flooding.

"The risk of landslides is also increased by heavy precipitation, deforestation and farming on steep slopes."

For this reason, AusAID acting counselor Tim Gill, said poverty and disaster affected people's lives and are more than just sad stories.

"Good development practice is not just about having systems in place but as practitioners we should be investing in development programs that consider the multi-facet nature that natural hazards have on the lives of people and communities," he said.

"While Tropical Cyclone Evan showed us the extent of desperation felt by people, it also demonstrated the huge resilience of Fiji's people and communities. This is something we need to harness and ensure we are investing in disaster risk reduction before a disaster event occurs."

While attending a round table discussion in Lautoka recently, Mr. Gill highlighted the effectiveness of Australia's TC Evan assistance to Fiji and lessons learnt as a means of informing future disaster co-ordination and response efforts.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
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