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Fiji Resilient Informal Settlements Supporting the most vulnerable communities in building adaptive capacity against climate change and disaster risks

Fiji, located in the Pacific Ocean's cyclone belt, experiences frequent cyclones and with them damaging winds, rain and storm surges. Being mountainous in its interior, Fiji’s cities and towns are mainly located on the coast and along rivers and as a result are particularly exposed to cyclones, storm surges, coastal and riverine erosion, landslides and already occurring sea level rise.

Mangrove deforestation and coral reef extraction to accommodate urban development and for reasons of income generation are increasing the vulnerability of urban areas to coastal hazards, as both mangrove forests and coral reefs provide effective barriers against storm surges and cyclones.

Informal settlement residents in towns and cities are particularly at risk. In addition to climate change having an impact on the living environment of many informal settlement communities, it also poses a risk to existing livelihood practices.

UN-Habitat, in partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Community Development and the Ministry of Local Government, and the Climate Change Unit of the Government of Fiji implements the Supporting the most vulnerable communities in building adaptive capacity against climate change and disaster risks project, with a budget of US$4.2 million, implemented over four years.

Project Objective

The overall objective of the project is to increase the resilience of informal urban settlements that are highly vulnerable to climate change and disaster risks. The project aims to work with vulnerable urban communities to conduct vulnerability assessments for the participating settlements and to produce actions plans and strategies for implementing climate adaptation actions within communities. The identified vulnerable communities participating in the project consist of 16 informal settlements across four urban areas: Lautoka, Sigatoka, Nadi and Lami.

Underpinning this project is the focus on capacity strengthening in order to enhance climate resilience of the most vulnerable settlements, with an emphasis on women, girls, youth, people with disability and people in vulnerable situations. Communities are involved in the planning, implementing and monitoring of activities, maximizing ownership and awareness.

Project components

The target towns and informal urban settlements are characterized by a high exposure to multiple climate hazards. Climate sensitivity is underpinned by rapid urbanization and population growth, underlying vulnerabilities (poverty, limited access to basic services, gender inequalities, weather dependent livelihoods, environmental and ecosystem degradation) and limited adaptive capacity at household, community and governance level.

In order to achieve the overall project objective, to increase the resilience of informal urban settlements in Fiji that are highly vulnerable to climate change and disaster risks, the project combines horizontally and vertically interrelated resilience strengthening of institutions, communities and physical, natural and social assets and ecosystems.

The project has four components, as shown below:

Beneficiaries

By taking a comprehensive approach of city-level institutional capacity strengthening including support for community level actions for resilience building that respond to current and future needs, all actions will benefit the inhabitants of the informal settlements while aiming to sustain the identified concrete adaptation measures. Therefore, with a strong mix of soft and hard interventions, it is anticipated that local resilience including at the household, community and informal settlements level is sustainably strengthened.