The Potential of Fijian Traditional Housing to Cope with Natural Disasters in Rural Fiji
Ayako Fujieda and Hirohide Kobayashi
Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Fiji is, as an island country in the Pacific Ocean widely recognized to be vulnerable to natural disasters due to its location and characteristics. Recent studies show the increasing emphasis on a capacity of disaster affected people and communities rather than their vulnerability and on what they can do for themselves. In the light of resilience, indigenous knowledge that has been generated and accumulated over years in adapting to the local environment has the potential to enhance the capacity of the local people to cope with natural disasters. Despite the increasing recognition of the advantages of such indigenous knowledge, its potential use in present day is little known. This paper explores the potential use of Fijian traditional housing as an alternative in restoring the living environment in rural Fiji where housing reconstruction depends heavily on the external assistance. Field study was carried out to understand current conditions and the potential of traditional housing construction in the modern context. Although traditional housings hardly exists in Fiji, field study results show the availability of natural resources, skills and knowledge, communal work and challenges in knowledge transfer and challenges brought by the life-style changes.
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