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Is there any chance for the poor to cope with extreme environmental events? Two case studies in the Solomon Islands

Ha'apio, Michael Otoara and Gonzalez, Ricardo and Wairiu, Morgan (2019) Is there any chance for the poor to cope with extreme environmental events? Two case studies in the Solomon Islands. World Development, 122 . 514 - 524. ISSN 0305-750X

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Our paper analyses the patterns and factors that explain households’ responses to extreme environmental events (EEEs) in two case studies of indigenous communities in the Solomon Islands. We used the ethnographic approach to describe the case studies and carried out thematic analysis to disentangle the factors that explain such responses. The first case was that of a rural community from Ranogha Island in the Western Province that was hit by the Tsunami of April 2007; the second was of a community settled in an informal development on a flood-prone area in peri-urban Honiara that was hit by a flash flood in April 2014. Drawing from the villagers’ experiences, we found that aid and support from family and community, referred to by the respondents as the “wantok” system, was key to recovering from the disasters. Many respondents identified climate change as one leading factor that explained such catastrophic events. The social cooperation system, the government’s role in responding to catastrophes and household net worth were identified among the main components of household responses. These constitute an effective engine to build palliative and preventive responses against catastrophic events and climate change risks. In spite of the extreme poverty observed, and the lack of government assistance, we conclude that amenities obtained from the community (through the wantok system) and household net worth (including the availability of common pool resources) enabled them to cope with the catastrophes. These factors are critical for long-term adaptation to EEEs and climate change risks. The community responses analysed with thematic analysis showed to be consistent with the conceptualization led by a farm-household model, and the household net worth as a source of income appears to be the correct measure of wealth instead the level of income in these less monetarised communities. Learning from how these communities and households responded to such EEEs provides evidence on how other communities could successfully adapt to increasing climate change risks.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate Change Adaptation, system, Social cooperation system, Community resilience, Household net worth
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD)
Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca - Waqairagata
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2019 22:04
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2021 03:21

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