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Infrastructure Resilience in the Samoas: Policy Approaches

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:59 authored by Mowll, Richard

‘Resilience’ is a term that is increasingly being used regarding community development issues. It is a particular issue on Pacific Islands where development issues exist, and the exposure of communities to natural hazards is apparent. Climate change is increasingly affecting Pacific Island communities. Many Pacific Island communities live on low-lying atolls, and communities on ‘high’ islands are generally located close to the coast. Both sets of communities are therefore highly exposed to storm and high seas events. Additionally, earthquake, tsunami and volcanic hazards exist. Infrastructure is a key aspect of resilience. Policies and technical issues regarding infrastructure resilience globally are the subject of a literature review. Research presented compares the policies taken to resilient infrastructure in (Western) Samoa against those taken in American Samoa. These two territories shared common cultural histories until the 19th century, both are ‘high’ islands and both face a similar range of natural hazards faced due to their relative close proximity in the Pacific Ocean. Analysis highlights where lessons can be learnt both globally and from the Samoas’ approaches to resilient infrastructure. The lessons learnt in this thesis include the value of taking a holistic approach to disaster risk reduction, involving the community in hazard identification and disaster risk reduction, and working on these issues in a timely manner. Additionally, it is seen that careful long-term planning of land use with natural hazards in mind, which is found to be an economically sound approach, is of value in disaster risk reduction.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Antarctic Research Centre


Overton, John