Relocation Case Study


Fiji, comprising more than 300 islands with a population of approximately one million, faces significant vulnerability to climate change impacts, particularly due to its exposure to tropical cyclones. The aftermath of Cyclone Winston in 2016 prompted the Fijian government to establish "Planned Relocation Guidelines" in 2018. Since 2016, twelve additional cyclones have struck Fiji, causing severe negative consequences across environmental, social, cultural, and economic dimensions.

The recurrent cyclonic events, expected to persist at their current frequency but with increasing intensity, contribute to high levels of widespread damage and loss of life. Coupled with heavy rainfall and rising sea levels, these events heighten the risk of severe and more frequent flooding. As a result, numerous coastal communities in Fiji are poised for relocation in the near future, with the government identifying over eight hundred vulnerable communities and forty-eight in urgent need of relocation.

The relocation process has already commenced, with Vunidogoloa on the island of Vanua Levu being the first settlement to undergo this transformative move. Vunidogoloa was grappling with a history of coastal flooding and erosion, which, together with sea level rises and heavy rains inundated homes and destroyed crops. Discussions about relocation were initiated in 2004, and by 2006, the community of 150 residents approached the provincial government seeking assistance for relocation. The relocation of Vunidogoloa to higher ground was successfully completed in 2014, marking a crucial step in addressing the community's vulnerability.

However, challenges emerged during the relocation process. Despite government assurances, the promised construction of new houses with kitchens did not materialise. In response, villagers took matters into their own hands, using salvaged materials from their abandoned homes to build kitchens. Another challenge involved securing land for crop cultivation. Although the relocation presented cultural challenges for the involved families, it stands as a testament to proactive efforts in addressing the imminent threats posed by climate change.