While mining often
economic opportunities, it may also pose risks to the environment and
human health. Community perceptions of risk have been shown to differ
significantly from those of company representatives, policy makers, and
the scientific community (Hadden, 1991). Indeed, public concerns have
sometimes been ignored or downplayed by those responsible for the
implementation of environmental policies and practices. Examination of
the complex social, economic, political, psychological and cultural
factors influencing public risk perception is thus important for
successful risk management. A survey questionnaire designed to quantify
and evaluate environmental and health risks as they are perceived by
Vatukoula residents was conducted from July 10-30, 2007 in Fiji.
Completed questionnaires were collected from 340 people, representing
19 different villages and settlements, and approximately 24% of the
adult population in the region.
(1) Air pollution is
the risk that causes the greatest concern among residents.
In fact, 86.7 % of residents feel “somewhat" or
about the risk. Furthermore,
85% of residents reported that air pollution was
or “very” likely to have harmed their health, the
majority of whom felt it was very likely (54.4%) (n= 318).
(2) Women in
Vatukoula feel they have less control to avoid the risks of mining
compared to men. However, 64% of all
residents reported feeling they had little or no
control to avoid the risks of mining.
(3) Women in
Vatukoula feel they
have less knowledge about the risks of mining compared to men (p
0.001). In general, 10 % of survey respondents felt they knew about all
of the risks of mining, while 34 % felt they knew about most
of the risks. 46% felt they only knew about some of the risks, and the
remaining 10% felt they didn’t know about any
of the risks of mining.
(4) Women in
Vatukoula tend to
recieve information about the risks of mining from different sources
than their male counterparts. While
37% of all respondents reported learning
about mining risks from the mining company, and 34% of all
respondents reported learning about the risks from other people in
their community, women were
half as likely as men to receive risk information from the company, and
twice as likely as men to receive information from other people in
their community (p<0.001).
Click on the links
below for PDFs of the full results.
Discussion of Results
Survey Results (Data Tables)
- Only adults over
the age of 18
were asked to participate in the survey. Respondents ranged in age from
18-80, with an average age of 41.
- 369 people were
selected from19 different villages and settlements in the Vatukoula
region, and 340 of the people selected returned a completed survey
- The survey was
offered in both
Fijian and English languages. About 52% of respondents chose to take
the survey in English, while 48% chose Fijian.
- 54% of the people
who responded were female, 46% were male.
- Fewer than 3% of
not complete any formal education, while 47% of respondents completed
secondary school, and 11% attended a university or other tertiary
- 83% of survey
respondents were ethnically Fijian. Others who responded were
Indo-Fijian, Rotuman, or of multi-ethnic heredity.
- For a more detailed discussion of
survey results, please click here.
Hadden, S. G.
(1991). Public Perception of Hazardous Waste. Risk Analysis,
Williams, B. L.,
Greenberg, M., & Kahn, M. A. (1999). Risk Perception in
The Savannah River Site [electronic version]. Risk Analysis,