Dr Loïc Le Dé's passion for the Pacific Islands comes from his strong relationship with the ocean. Loïc is an islander himself. He grew up on an island on the west coast of France and shares a connection to the ocean like Pacific Islanders.
As a passionate surfer, Loïc visited the Pacific Islands and stayed with a local family in a Samoan village. This is where he fell in love with Pacific culture, the people and the place.
“When you live with the people, you participate in the umu, you go fishing with them, you learn about their culture. I was so impressed with their strong values and their culture.”
Loïc completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland in Environmental Science with Samoa and New Zealand as case studies. His research in the Pacific focuses on emergency and disaster management, community-based disaster risk reduction, disaster recovery and migration and remittances in the context of disaster.
Loïc began a research project in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam hit, to understand people’s livelihood mechanisms used during and after the cyclone hit and explore what it meant in terms of resilience and disaster risk reduction. This project is in collaboration with the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and the French Red Cross in Vanuatu.
“The focus of the project is in both rural and urban areas of Vanuatu. I think it’s important to give focus to fast-growing urban areas like Port Vila as there are emerging issues in Vanuatu and more generally in the Pacific Islands, regarding sanitation, overcrowding and the difficulties associated with rural-urban migration.”
“In the rural areas, we are looking at the traditional and local knowledge as well as different livelihood mechanisms used to deal with Cyclone Pam. I’m seeing if government organisations and NGOs take people’s views into account in the recovery efforts.”
Another project Loïc is working on is an extension of his doctoral thesis. He is working with Jenna Pairama, an AUT student awarded a summer scholarship, looking at Pacific Islanders sending remittances to the islands.
“This topic is important in New Zealand because there are a lot of people here who send money and goods back home to the Pacific. This is important for people on a day-to-day basis and is even more important during and after disasters, not only from an economic viewpoint, but also emotionally, socially and culturally.
“The idea here is to understand the view of people who send remittances, and to see how this mechanism could be supported by the government and NGOs for disaster risk reduction.”
Loïc is also working on a project to merge disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation policies and practices in the Pacific Islands, as he believes both are strongly connected. This project is in collaboration with the University of Auckland and Oxfam.
“The idea of this project is to see how these two policy frameworks could merge together and be one and the same.”
This project involves workshops in Tonga and the Solomon Islands.