Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 18 September, 2012
BANABA Island residents now have access to almost one million litres of rainwater thanks to the success of the Kiribati Adaptation Program’s (KAP) rainwater harvesting works.
In a joint effort between KAP, the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU), King Holdings and the local community, construction of the Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) works was completed on 12 June, 2012.
The works, incorporated under Phase II and Phase III of KAP, comprised of various tasks needed to retrofit rainwater harvesting systems for water collection, transmission and storage infrastructure. This included the restoration of two water tanks, the installation of guttering on the desalination plant and old workshop buildings and maintenance training for a local technician.
The success of the project and regular rainfall during the past two months resulted in the tanks reaching the maximum capacity of 950,000 litres, KAP Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara said.
“Everyone involved is celebrating the successful deliverance of rainwater to Banaba, an island that is in the gravest need of water,” Mr Kaitara said.
“To give you an idea of the scale of the project, a standard rainwater tank is 5000 litres and Banaba’s new tanks hold a combined capacity of nearly one million litres. That’s the equivalent of 190 standard tanks,” he said.
The size of the roof catchment areas was about 10 times the size of a standard maneaba, he said.
“During the phosphate mining days, most water had to be imported from overseas. Then, the island depended solely on desalination.
“This proves there was no clean water supply available to the island and justified the dire need for the rainwater project.”
Banaba Island is 6.5km2 and part of the Gilbert Island chain. With just 295 residents, the one-time phosphate mining island is vulnerable to water shortages because there is no surface water or significant reservoirs of ground water.
Prior to KAP’s RWH works, Banaba Island residents depended on a combination of desalinated water and to a lesser extent rainwater.
However, the desalination plant was expensive to operate and the isolation of Banaba Island made maintenance works difficult, KAP and MPWU Senior Water Engineer Marella Rebgetz said.
“Before when the desalination plant broke down or required maintenance, Banaba had limited reserve water supply,” Ms Rebgetz said.
“Now, in most years, there should not be a need to operate the desalination plant at all,” she said.
“The project also delivered a water education program, additional materials for local communities to undertake further rainwater harvesting, and training to the local water technician to ensure the works is well-maintained in the future.
“I’m very proud to have been associated with this project. The tanks are now full and the water supply for the people of Banaba is much more secure.”
The Kiribati Adaptation Program began its third phase (KAPIII) in mid-2012. KAPIII aims to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure.
KAPIII will achieve this objective under four key components to be achieved by 2016:
- Improve water resource use and management;
- Increase coastal resilience;
- Strengthen the capacity to manage the effects of climate change and natural hazards; and
- Project management, monitoring and evaluation.
KAP III has a total cost of US$10.8million and will be financed through grants via the World Bank from Government of Australia; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF); Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD); Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); and in-kind contribution from the Government of Kiribati.