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Open Access Twenty years on: Poverty and hardship in urban Fiji

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Twenty years on: Poverty and hardship in urban Fiji

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Through ‘official statistics’, academic and donor interpretations as well as the eyes of Suva residents, this paper presents an overview and case study of twenty years of growing poverty and hardship in the contemporary Pacific. Focusing on the past two decades, the paper notes how much, and yet so little, has changed for those attempting to make a living in the rapidly developing towns and cities. Changing interpretations of poverty and hardship are presented, moving from the ‘no such thing’ view, to simplification, and finally to an understanding that Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, are no longer an ‘extension’ of Australia and New Zealand, but independent nations actively trying to find solutions to their issues of economic, social and political hardship whilst facing challenges to traditional institutions and networks. Fiji is in some respects a very particular case as almost half of the population has limited access to secure land, but the very nature of that vulnerability to hardship and poverty holds useful lessons for wider analysis.

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