JOURNAL ARTICLE

Traditional coping strategies and disaster response: examples from the South Pacific region

Stephanie M Fletcher, Jodi Thiessen, Anna Gero, Michele Rumsey, Natasha Kuruppu, Juliet Willetts
Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2013, 2013: 264503
24454413
The Pacific Islands are vulnerable to climate change and increased risk of disasters not only because of their isolated and often low lying geographical setting but because of their economic status which renders them reliant on donor support. In a qualitative study exploring the adaptive capacity of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) across four countries, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu, it was clear that traditional coping strategies are consistently being applied as part of response to disasters and climate changes. This paper describes five common strategies employed in PICs as understood through this research: recognition of traditional methods; faith and religious beliefs; traditional governance and leadership; family and community involvement; and agriculture and food security. While this study does not trial the efficacy of these methods, it provides an indication of what methods are being used and therefore a starting point for further research into which of these traditional strategies are beneficial. These findings also provide important impetus for Pacific Island governments to recognise traditional approaches in their disaster preparedness and response processes.

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