Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 501–510 | Cite as

Adaptation to climate change and freshwater resources in Vusama village, Viti Levu, Fiji

  • Tristan Pearce
  • Renee Currenti
  • Asinate Mateiwai
  • Brendan Doran
Original Article


Changing precipitation patterns including more intense and prolonged dry periods have become a growing concern for people living in the Pacific Island region. People in the region are particularly sensitive to these changes given their resource-based livelihoods and high dependence on rainfall for their freshwater needs. Despite this, little attention has been given to understanding the implications of climatic changes for people and their capacity to manage these changes. This paper assesses human vulnerability to climate change (as it relates to fresh water resources) in Vusama, an iTaukei village in southwest Viti Levu, Fiji in the context of recent social and ecological changes. An analysis of data collected using a vulnerability approach that included semi-structured interviews, participant observation and analysis of secondary sources reveal that climate change together with behavioural changes are negatively affecting availability and access to clean freshwater, with implications for household economies, food security and human health. In particular, prolonged drought and changing seasonal patterns, together with people’s increasing reliance on a village borehole in lieu of family wells have resulted in a freshwater crisis. People are coping by using earnings from wage employment and harvesting and selling seafood to buy water and vegetables, rationing freshwater and depending on extended social networks for fresh produce. Current responses are reactive and short-term. Longer-term adaptation strategies are needed that consider expected future climate change and broader human development goals.


Water security Indigenous Pacific Small islands Vulnerability Health 



Vinaka vaka levu to the people of Vusama. We thank the ratu Tui Nasoni and the people of Vusama for welcoming us to their village and into their hearts. In particular, we thank the interview respondents, the families that hosted us during our stay and turaga-ni-koro Watisoni Bete. Thank you to Danielle Rietberg, Roger Kitson, Zoe Arch, Ananaiasa (Tukai) Vunituraga and Taione Lua for research assistance. Thank you to Lui Manuel and Ilaitia Ikurisaru (Tulei) of the Nadroga-Navosa Provincial Council for guiding results verification and dissemination with the village. The research was supported by a Fellowship Grant from the University of the Sunshine Coast and New Colombo Plan scholarships. We thank Marie Puddister for the creation of Fig. 1.

Supplementary material

10113_2017_1222_MOESM1_ESM.docx (87 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 86 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainability Research CentreUniversity of the Sunshine CoastSippy DownsAustralia
  2. 2.University of the South PacificSuvaFiji Islands

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