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Pacific response to disaster displacement - Urban case study: Ba Town, Fiji

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Key findings

Poor urban planning contributes to disaster risk

Climate change is contributing to a growing intensity of tropical cyclones in Fiji, with devastating consequences for the small island nation.7 Despite efforts at disaster risk reduction, this results in repeated displacement for the island’s population. “The strength of the cyclones has continued to increase and even cyclone-proof houses have been uprooted,” reports Thomas, who works for a local non-governmental organisation (NGO). As a result, 94 per cent of survey respondents have been displaced more than once.

Natural hazards alone are not solely to blame for the extent of displacement: poor urban planning and harmful development projects have exacerbated the problem.8 “The main cause of these floods is development,” says Isaac, a leader of the displaced community in Ba Town’s Yalalevu neighbourhood. “Before there was nothing, it was just a sugar cane field. [...] All the water used to just go through the sugar cane field and spread.” According to Isaac, despite expert advice and funding, effective steps have yet to be taken to reduce flood risk in the neighbourhood