Environment

New Paper Addresses Impacts of COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold on Indo-Fijians Engaged in Small Scale Fisheries

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy addresses the impacts of COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold on Indo-Fijians engaged in small scale fisheries.

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The paper says that countries, including Fiji, need to address ethical and social justice considerations and the politics of recovery efforts by putting vulnerable and marginalized groups front and center in the aftermath of pandemics and natural disasters.

What countries cannot afford is for economic recovery efforts to put additional burdens and risk on those invested in the SSF sector, and cause further widening of inequities, and increase food and economic insecurity.

While the attention of the global community is focused on the immediate health crisis, cyclones Harold, Yasa (Category 5, made landfall on 17 December 2020) and Ana (Category 2, made landfall on 31 Janaury 2021), were stark reminders for the Pacific that the existential threat of climate change has not gone away. The COVID-19 pandemic may simply be the ‘first wave’, especially if global climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development goals and targets, and addressing inequities through an intersectional lens, are not seen as integral to economic recovery.

The paper’s lead author, Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai, Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s program in Fiji explains, “In additional to dealing with the global COVID-19 health crisis, countries like Fiji are trying to understand and respond to the knock on economic impacts, while responding to other disasters. Our study specifically looked at how Indo-Fijians (that is, Fijians of Indian descent) in the small-scale fisheries sector were affected by COVID-19 and a Category 4 cyclone, with a focus on livelihoods, income and food security. This type of research is critical as governments and partners mobilize resources and respond to multiple and compounding crises, to ensure assistance is given to people who are most vulnerable do not widen inequities between different people and groups.”

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