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close this section of the library Urbanization -- Social aspects -- Fiji -- Suva


View the PDF document Urban expansion, environmental change, living conditions and development planning in the Pacific : a case study of the Suva-Lami-Nasinu-Nausori Conurbation, Fiji
Author: Stabile, Jessica Cory.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A.
Subject: Urbanization -- Environmental aspects -- Fiji -- Suva, Urbanization -- Social aspects -- Fiji -- Suva , Regional planning -- Fiji -- Case studies, Rural-urban migration -- Environmental aspects -- Fiji -- Suva , Rural-urban migration -- Social aspects -- Fiji -- Suva
Date: 2001.
Call No.: pac HT 384 .F52 S88 2001
BRN: 974931
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: Urbanisation is becoming one of the most significant demographic and development issues for many states of the Pacific Island region, as in other developing countries. Pacific urban populations are continuing to grow through both natural increase and immigration, and are typically concentrated (along with economic activity) in one major city or town, usually the national or provincial capital. This spatial concentration of people and economic activity has had serious social and environmental consequences, especially in coastal areas. Major problems affecting urban centres in the region include relatively rapid growth, unemployment and underemployment, poverty and inequality, shortages of land (complicated by the tenure system), increasing numbers of squatter settlements and informal housing, falling standards of infrastructure and basic services, and environmental degradation. Hence, improved management of and planning for urban growth is of major importance for most of Pacific island nations, including Fiji. With a relatively long history of urbanisation and diverse economy, Fiji has the most complex urban functions of the Pacific island nations. By 1996, Fiji's population was 46.4% urbanised. It is in Fiji's peri-urban areas that population growth and physical expansion are now most rapid, and in urban and peri-urban informal settlements where poverty and poor living conditions are particularly evident. Fiji, like most Third World countries and former colonies, is characterised by a skewed urban hierarchy, with Greater Suva-Nausori (comprised of the urban corridor formed by Suva City, Lami Town, Nasinu Town and Nausori Town, and their respective fringe areas) dominating. Greater Suva-Nausori's population has increased dramatically in the past half century, growing from 29,418 people in 1946 to 208,520 people in 1996, when it represented 26.9% of Fiji's total population and 58.0% of Fiji's urban population. The Suva-Lami-Nasinu-Nausori urban corridor is therefore experiencing rapid population growth and considerable development pressure. Thus, there is a need for enhanced urban planning on a regional scale, serving to coordinate development and conservation schemes for the urban and peri-urban areas of all four municipalities. Although there has been a marked improvement in many indicators of development in Fiji over the past few decades, the benefits of these developments have not been dispersed uniformly, thereby deepening pockets of disadvantage and poverty, and impinging on people's livelihood strategy options. The local variation in infrastructure, services, facilities and amenities may be decried as inequitable. Fiji, however, does not have a clearly defined rich or poor sector, with poverty pervading all communities and being fairly evenly spread between urban and rural populations as well as across ethnic groups. Nevertheless, people with few skills or little education generally fare worst in the urban areas, earning low wages or being intermittently unemployed. Residents' poverty is often reflected in poor living conditions with insecure tenure, substandard housing and a lack of basic infrastructure and urban services.Thus, there are considerable implications of degraded living environments for a fairly significant proportion of the area's urban and peri-urban dwellers, although problems take different forms in different places. Change in urban centres remains uneven, with living and environmental conditions varying widely, and the scattering of low-income communities necessitates the incorporation of combinations of place-based and people-based policies. Similarly, urban development efforts need to focus on participatory, demand-driven social improvements as well as on economic ones. In Fiji, as elsewhere in the island Pacific, it is in/near the cities and towns that the environment has suffered the greatest degradation because of the concentration of urban waste, the increasing level of urban demands on natural resources, and the primarily coastal setting of most urban centres. Yet, urban centres, as the embodiment of intricate social, economic and cultural networks, are constantly in a state of flux and can consequently be subject to planning control and direction; urban complexity is therefore subject to human intervention and cities are receptive to governance. Economic, environmental and sociopolitical aspects of the urban system need to be integrated in such a way as to ensure cities' sustainability. This depends upon a long-term genuine commitment to a multisectoral and coordinated planning process. Sustainable urban development involves not only improving the environment but also requires that the needs of all inhabitants be met. Today's urban centres require enhanced management and planning by the public, private, civil and community sectors in order to fulfil their function as pleasant places to live and work in. This is crucial if the quality of life in the urban and peri-urban areas of developing countries are to improve.
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