New Study Reveals Natural Disasters Increase Poverty in Fiji

A new study, commissioned by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), on the relationship between poverty and disasters, including climate related disasters, was released last week in Nadi, Fiji at the Pacific Regional meeting of national disaster managers and Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of the Ministries of Finance and Planning, supported by SOPAC, UNDP and ISDR.

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The report, authored by IUCN Oceania’s Chief Technical Adviser, Dr Padma Narsey Lal, in collaboration with economists from SOPAC, Ms Paula Holland and Ms Reshika Singh, empirically examines the complex relationship between these two growing concerns in the Pacific Region. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative analytical methodologies, including regression analysis, the study confirms both that poverty exacerbates the effects of disaster and that disasters increase the level of poverty. The study also shows that other shocks such as political turmoil also increase the effect of disasters, as well as increase poverty level in the country. Several policy recommendations are made by the authors. Included are specific recommendations relating to targeted pro- poor economic and social development and investment in sustainable use of natural capital for disaster risk reduction as well as poverty alleviation. Investing in natural systems also is a ‘win win’ strategy for communities. Conservation and restoration of ecosystems helps to ensure not only that people have immediate access to food after disasters but also provides a more diversified basis of livelihood.

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