Livelihood Vulnerability of Coastal Communities in Fiji and Solomon Islands to Changes in Reef Resource Availability and Climate Change
Most coastal communities of the Pacific Islands are traditionally highly dependent on reef resources as their main source of animal protein and livelihood. This makes them highly vulnerable to any change in the status of these resources. In coastal communities, the continuation of current lifestyles, opportunities for future development and food security are all dependent on coastal reef fishery resources. The ecosystem goods and services provided by coral reefs can be greatly influenced by changes in both the natural environment and socio-economic systems which includes population growth and urbanization; economic development; governance and political stability; climate change; limits to domestic fishery production; markets and trade; fuel cost and technology. The loss of these goods and services provided by coral reefs would greatly impact the livelihood of millions of coastal communities.
My work within REPICORE aims to understand the livelihood vulnerability of coastal communities in Solomon Islands and Fiji to changes in marine resource availability overtime. Globally, the assumption is that coastal reef resources are relatively decreasing and coastal households in coastal communities will be affected. In this study I further explore the drivers of reef resource use and how households have adapted and coped with changes in reef resources in order to sustain livelihoods.
The main objectives of my work are to:
- Identify the drivers of marine resource use in Fiji and Solomon Islands.
- Examine and understand the conditions that determine household livelihood vulnerability to reef resource availability of coastal communities.
- Explore potential adaptive and transformative strength of households in Melanesia under potential future changes in reef resource availability
Household survey data complemented by key informant and focus group interviews were collected from ten communities in Fiji and nine in the Solomon Islands. Livelihood vulnerability was measured as a function of exposure to changes in marine resource availability as a result of overharvesting and anthropogenic sources of pollution; sensitivity factors related to dependency on and access to these resources; and adaptive capacity in terms of physical, natural, financial, human and social capital. This study draws researchers to the debate that not all households in coastal communities are dependent on reef resources for live livelihood and livelihood vulnerability is contextual.