A total of 333 islands make up the archipelago of the Fiji Islands, with a land area of 18,270 km2 spread over 1,281,122 km2 of exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The country has a population of 858,038 (2014 estimate). Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific, with diverse forestry, fishing and agriculture sectors, and significant contributions from mining and tourism.
Fiji is exposed to both hydro-meteorological and geotechnical hazards. The country is in the cyclone region, averaging three events every two years with a severe event (category 3–4 cyclone) every three to four years. Indications to 2050 are for an increase in severe cyclone systems though the number per year may not vary. Rising sea level, extreme precipitation, storm surges and thunderstorms have caused devastating flood damage in recent years. About every 5 years, an El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) event occurs and can result in severe droughts; an ENSO state was declared in the region in 2015.
Climate change impacts and disasters are felt nationwide, from the interior of the high islands to the maritime islands fringing the main islands. Heavy erosion, landslides and sediment transportation from the hills appear as damaging sedimentation in the coastal waters and reefs. Subsistence and cash crop farmers are being increasingly affected by floods and soil losses, while coastal dwellers are being affected by coastal erosion and losses in biodiversity.
Thirty one (31) per cent of the national population was classified as being poor in 2008/09, down from 35 per cent in 2002/03. While poverty in urban areas dropped dramatically from 28 to 18 per cent (a reduction of 34 per cent) over this period, poverty in rural areas increased by 6 per cent from 40 to 43 per cent. Moreover, children are disproportionally affected by poverty, with half of all families with two or more children living in poverty.
The Government has strongly decentralised institutions to manage disasters. A new Climate Change Policy is in place, and revision of the Disaster Management Act will be carried out in 2016. The national DRM arrangement is not fully implemented as yet, without legal authority over its new provisions.