Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Planning in Fiji

Today we started to look at the issues facing planning in Fiji. Students had the opportunity to see an interview with a planner in Fiji. Currently there are 3 planners serving the whole country of 850,000 people.

22 comments:

  1. Andrew Shen (4584090)September 16, 2009 at 9:43 PM

    I was actually pretty surprised by the number and ratio of planners to people in Fiji. I do think that having lesser planners has its advantages like having more control over planning and project development. On the other hand, there will be higher level of stress and responsibilities involved.

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  2. I was also amazed that there were only three planners in Fiji. It is pretty shocking that Fiji has 322 islands, population of 850,000 and just three planners (one planner per 283,333 people!) I really don’t understand the reason for this.
    I guess squatter settlements are inevitable in countries that have a poor population, and in Fiji squatter settlements are outside the planning system, thus are not legally realised, it will be interesting to see how Fiji tackles their problem of rapid population growth in the urban centres.

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  3. The Fijian Planning situation sounds mired in a fairly unstable political reality, which has lead to the unusual 1 planner to 283,333 fijian citizens. The fact that most fijian planners left fiji to work overseas due to this political reality is sad. It certainly means that the Fijian urban growth will not have been managed as well as it could have been. The squatter settlements could be seen as having a direct relation to the political situation in Fiji, since the 1980's, and the start of the frequent coups. Still sounds like an amazing archipelago though that would be very interesting to visit.

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  4. Like Andrew, SoYeon and David, it was really interesting to hear that Fiji only has three planners to more than 200,000 Fijians and more than 300 islands! As I read the previous comments on Fiji's squatter settlements, the floating population of China came to mind. It seems that this movement of the rural population into urban areas is a common phenomenon to both Fiji and China. At the moment, China is using registration permit to deter the influx of these rural migrants. Could there be ways of reconciling the needs of a living for these rural migrants while avoiding pressures on the environment and infrastructure?

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  5. As far as i know, Tourism plays a massive role in Fiji's economy, and - according to Kolonio -the majority of land is subject to sales and subdivision. The planning of future land uses and the relation with the economy of Fiji would be interesting to look into.

    Should it be economically profitable for land to be sold and subdivided for more hotels or resorts, the tourism sector would play a role in shaping the urban form of Fiji.

    also with Climate Change pressures, as well as environmental impacts on the reefs from human activities, this economic sector of Fiji is volatile.

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  6. It is appauling that the average Fijian income is below the poverty line. Most of the time, the income that one earns is barely enough to pay for their housing, let alone their families' needs such as healthcare and education. The people whose lease has expired are faced with only one option - to move into a squatter settlement. Prior to watching the DVD, I assumed that squatter settlements are just those that cannot afford to pay rent anymore and I didn't think about the reason why they were kicked out of their homes in the first place. It is amazing what many of these people would do to give their kids a decent education of close proximity to their homes - even if it means living illegally. Another thing I was intrigued about was that many of these people in squatter settlements are hard-working people with proper jobs.

    The squatter settlements reflect overall lack of governmental response to wider economic and social issues. However, many squatter settlements have been creative in their ways of living and from the DVD, it seems many are happy with the way they are currently living.

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  7. Much like the rest of the class, I was surprised to learn that Fiji has three planners to service a population of 850,000 people. Fiji has suffered from a volatile political situation for many years, it is no wonder that planners have set out for work overseas. The lack of planning expertise available in Fiji has resulted in ineffective planning for urban growth. The result, overcrowded and inadequate housing is a reality for the majority of the population.

    It is the government’s social responsibility to better the living standards of its population. Encouraging planners to stay in the country could initiate this extensive process.

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  8. I too, was shocked that only three planners serve the Fiji Islands. In Auckland, we have around 60 planners soley processing resource consents for the isthmus, not to mention the number of planners on the policy side and working on the CBD. Fiji, like many of the other pacific island nations is facing an urban migration, not unlike what New Zeleand faced after the world wars, where people are moving to established urban centres in search of work and a better standard of living. With such little formal planning in place, these people end up becoming statistics of squatting and add to what is already a great social, environmental, cultural and economic problem.

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  9. The lack of town planners appears to be consistent with the Fijian Government's priorities. It is a country controlled by a military regime. Comparitively the Fijian army is of the same size as New Zealands (approx. 10,000 troops) while NZ's population is 5 times as large. Overall their military expenditure is high for a country surrounded by nations with no military forces.

    Compounding the issue is Fiji's political climate. It has been unstable for the past 20 years as a result of 4 military coups, each coup resulting in a new government direction with regards to development and planning. To me this shows the benefits to the planning profession within a politically stable environment such as NZ where the policy direction is occasionally adjusted between the centre left and centre right.

    Overall it is apparent that the problems facing Fiji have created negative outcomes for planning within the country. Unfortunately there seems to be no quick fix to these problems with over 30% of Fiji's urban population expected to live in squatter settlements (http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=30792).

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  10. Although Fiji has the Rural Land Use Policy which "gives" Fiji a framework for sustainable development. Due to the unstable political climate, local planners can only do very little to guide the development of Fiji. As mentioned in the class handout, with increasing intensification of agriculture, urban sprawl, and other types of demand on land resource, how can three planners monitor and maintain sustainable relationships between the people in Fiji and the country's natural resources? Not even worth to mention about any long term strategic plan or policy. In my opinion, even there was three thousand planners in Fiji, as long as the country is goverened in a form of dictatorship, the planners for Fiji are considered to be administration officers only

    And I found a PDF document online which regards to Fiji's land use policy. If anybody is interest, feel free to click on the link. http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/fiji/land.pdf

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  11. David Badham 4693262October 3, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    I have been to Fiji several times, and have witnessed first hand the lack of planning across the whole country, and this was before the recent military coups. Shanty towns and slum like areas were common in the main urban areas such as Suva and Ndaria were I spent a considerable amount of time.

    I also spent a considerable amount of time on several of the small resort islands. One of these islands, Plantation isalnd, presented a paradox of sorts. On one side the island was a picturesque tourist paradise with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. This starkly contrasted what I found on the other side of the island when I took a walk one day. The beach had become a makeshift rubbish dump for the cumulative waste form the isalnd resort, with coke cans and plastic wrappers covering the beautiful beach.

    I have shared this experience to highlight the pressures that tourism is having on the Fijian enviornment. Essentially in a country of almost one million and with only 3 planners, it is difficult to see how Fiji can manage these pressures into the future.

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  12. I have the same view as the majority of the class. I am shocked to hear that Fiji only has three planners. Did anyone pick up from the interview if they had plans to hire any more?

    It was interesting to hear about your experiences in Fiji David. I experienced a similar situation in Tonga. While it is not as touristy as Fiji, there were many beaches that were covered in litter, and I don't think it was just because of the tourists. Numerous times I saw locals dropping litter. I wonder if this problem is one faced by a majority of the islands in the South Pacific?

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  13. Xizheng Wang (ID:4644700)October 11, 2009 at 5:28 PM

    I was surpised on the fact that only a few planners work in the country. I imagine it to be a very challenging environment due the number of planners and the unstable political environment there. However, I would also imagine that less planners would give you more power to implement your ideas.

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  14. How could three people monitor and maintain sustainable relationships between the people in Fiji and the country's natural resources? There must be lots of environmental and sustainable concerns regarding to a pacific country like Fiji. Planners develop long- and short-term plans for the use of land and the growth and revitalization of urban, suburban, and rural communities and the region in which they are located. The number of professional planner in Fiji would not incorporate with increasing intensification of agriculture, urban sprawl, and other resource demand. Moreover, long term plans policies or strategies regarding to sustainable development are universal common factors to direct ones development. I don’t think the Fiji government would derive professional, suitable, effective and efficient development guidance by the work of three local planners.

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  15. As is quite apparently the case with the large majority of submitters (above) I too was surprised at what seems to me to be an extremely low level of planners throughout the nation of Fiji.
    This i believe is one of the reasons squatter settlements exist. It will definitely result in such settlements, with their poor living conditions and other social environmental and economic problems, continuing to 'pop up' and develop throughout the nation. This is further problematic when addressing the trend that is seeing the fijian nation move more and more toward urbanization with increasing levels of rural populations venturing toward urban development.

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  16. 3 planners to a population over 800,000 people to me is both amazing and surprising. Although I have never been to fiji, it is not surprising that a country which continues to struggle in a political context, and only holds three planners has an issue with squatter settlements. This environment, illustrates that Fiji's three planners would barely influence the way Fiji is developed. Driven by tourism, the people of Fiji are moving into urban areas to enhance their quality of life. However, the current lack of planners to guide urban development see's such people turning to squatter settlements. Once such settlements exist, how do you resovle the associated environmental, social, cultural and economic issues?

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  17. As a surveyor working in Fiji in the 1960s and 1970s, I was quire familiar with people living in poor conditions, including squatters. Poverty was, and still is a common problem but the homeless numbers seem to have escalated to a frightening degree. This is a country of very limited financial resources and virtually no financial and social welfare support. The government obviously considers this a matter of reasonably low priority and will only act when the squatters located within the local authority boundaries create a public health problem. They were then resettled by the housing cooperation in small purpose built communities. Resettlement of this nature into another community is in itself a challenge – human nature being what it is. However, the Fijian churches and other non-government organisations have to take a strong supporting and leadership role in matters of this nature.

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  18. Interesting to hear that these poor living conditions and poverty are not a new thing Micheal. It really demonstrates how rooted in the fijian way of life the trend is, as it has been allowed to exist for over 40 years. Obviously it is not high on the agenda of the government if it has not been resolved. As raised by previous posters once these squatter settlements have been established it would take a great amount of resources to rehome all those people with adaquate living arrangements and i guess the government just wouldnt have the funds to do so even if it chose to.

    I think it may be out of the ability of churches and NGO's to retify this issue. the video in class explained that many squatters were doing so by choice to be near places of work and schoolcs for their kids. This seems to be too much of an urban development issue for such authorities to deal with.

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  19. before my planning study and this course, i thought countries like fiji or tuvalu would be least likely to suffer from climate change , as they small in size which limits them from industrial development and less cars compare to other developed countries. and now i realize the greenhouse gas emissions are serious enough have negative effects on the environment globally.
    moreover i think there is good side and bad side of having only 3 planners in the country. have anyone caculated how much money New Zealanders pay for consent processing? and how many papers have been used within the processing? and the general panning consultation cost is really high as well while carrying out a new policy...
    while as there are only 3 planners, the planning standard is limited, as the issues are overloaded.

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  20. Yuhui Tang (4597270)October 22, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Apparently, the unstabled political climate and changes in Fiji's economy and society have lead to a growing issue of poverty and hardship for our important Pacific neighbour to face. The increase of squatter settlements is a particular challenge to Fiji. I believe that poverty is the root casue of squatting. Therefore effective programmes towards alleviation of poverty are neccessary. I think an integrated planning and developmental policy are prerequistes for affressing the sqautter question ona sustained basis.

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  21. I did not attend the Fiji presentation but find it astounding that there are only 3 planners serving the whole country of 850,00 people in Fiji ( one per 283,333 people). I see this as highly problematic as demonstrated in the Tuvalu presentation the rural to urban migration, move to the city is creating a number of issues which needs to be addressed, such as providing affordable housing, education, health, social and physical infrastructure and preventing environmental degradation.

    I would like to visit fiji and observe the planning system and planning issues first hand. I will pay close attention to fiji in its future development as it faces a number of interesting planning issues.

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  22. Well, how can be only 3 planners working in the Fiji. It seems like a huge difference comparing with New Zealand. Although, less planners in Fiji could be more powerful and efficiently working and implementing the policies and regulations. However, 3 planners' knowledge and experiences are absolutely short for Fiji which has 850,00 people. Therefore, I strongly suggest Fiji should take more jobs for their planning field.

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