Category Archives: People

Sunset in Tarawa.

Government and SPC talk joint strategies

The Government of Kiribati and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) have been working hard to develop a new joint country strategy (JCS) between SPC and the Government of Kiribati.

JCSs are multi-year plans that align the priorities of SPC member countries with the services that SPC can provide. The new plan will focus on a strategy for 2013 to 2015.

Discussions on the strategy, which took place early April 2013 on Tarawa, involved identifying the country’s key development priorities and matching these with the expertise SPC can provide in sectors ranging from fisheries to statistics.

The mission follows a review of the first JCS (2008–2011) carried out in October 2012, which found that SPC in close collaboration with the Government of Kiribati had effectively implemented activities and services in line with Kiribati’s development priorities.

David Teaabo, Pacific Plan Desk Officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, commented that the JCS approach is very much a joint approach and relies on full engagement by the government.

According to Mr Teaabo, the collaborative approach promoted by the JCS makes it possible to improve coordination and collaboration efforts at national level to enable Kiribati to pursue its development priorities.

The mission team was led by Mike Batty, (Director of SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division) and included representatives of SPC’s Strategic Engagement, Policy and Planning Facility as well as its Statistics for Development Division. The SPC team’s Kiribati counterparts included Mr Teaabo as well as representatives of the National Economic Planning Office.

Mr Batty said that cooperation between the government and SPC had been excellent, which was a testimony to the commitment by both parties to ensuring that Kiribati’s development priorities are translated into concrete actions.

Climate Change Public Hearing Banner web

Climate Change Public Hearing panelists revealed

The National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change is on Friday 19 April, 2013 from 9.30am at Bairiki Square.

His Excellency President Anote Tong will lead an elite list of panel members who will address the public in the highly anticipated first-ever National High-level Public Hearing on Climate Change this Friday.

Initiated by the Parliament Select Committee on Climate Change (PSCCC), the public hearing will see panel members address the nation on the issue of climate change as well as respond to questions from the public.

Facilitated by Dr Bwaranite Kirata, the 12-strong panel will include Kiribati National Council of Churches Chairman Bishop Paul Mea, Boutokaan te Koaua Party representative Martin Tofinga, Karikirakean te I – Kiribati Party Chairman Tetabo Nakara, Maurin Kiribati Party Chairman Rutiano Benetito and Kiribati Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) President Tekeeua Tarati. A full list of panel members is provided below.

Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Climate Change and Nikunau MP Rimeta Beniamina said the Committee hoped the public hearing would enhance the understanding of the general public about the issue of climate change and their responsibilities as citizens to complement the Government’s efforts to implement adaptation programs as well as encourage national leaders to jointly work together to prepare people for climate change adaptation.

“The overarching aim in conducting a public hearing as such is to keep citizens informed and to consolidate a national shared hope and vision for a better future of the people of Kiribati while adapting to the impacts of climate change,” he said. Adding, the theme for the event would be “Let’s work together to build national resilience against Climate Change impacts”.

The public hearing is on Friday, 19 April 2013 at the Bairiki Square starting from 9.30 am and will be broadcast live across Kiribati on BPA National Radio.

The general public is invited to participate in this national event. For those who can’t attend, voice your questions on our Facebook page and a select number will be submitted to the panel on the day.

National High-level Public Hearing on Climate Change panelists:

1. HE President Anote Tong, Head of State

2. Bishop Paul Mea, Chairman of Kiribati National Council of Churches (KNCC)

3. Mr Rimeta Beniamina, Vice Chairman of Parliament Select Committee on Climate Change (PSCCC)

4. Mr Martin Tofinga, representative from Boutokaan te Koaua Party and MP from Betio

5. Mr Tetabo Nakara, Chairman of Karikirakean te I-Kiribati Party and MP from Beru

6. Mr Rutiano Benetito, Chairman of Maurin Kiribati Party and MP from Marakei

7. Mr Nakibae Teuatabu, local expert on climate change

8. Mrs Moia Tetoa, President of Aia Mwaea Ainen Kiribati (AMAK, Kiribati National Women’s Federation)

9. Mr Tekeeua Tarati, President of Kiribati Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI)

10. Ms Floreen Tikau, youth representative

11. Mr Tekamangu Bwauiira, disabled community representative

12. Mr Ueanteiti, representative from the most affected community
(Tebunginako)

Dr Bwaranite Kirata will act as Facilitator/Moderator of Discussions

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

No potholes in road contract signing

South Tarawa’s long-awaited new road is one step closer after the Government of Kiribati and New Zealand-based construction company McConnell Dowell signed the official contract recently.

Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop signed the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract in front of a small gathering in Betio, Kiribati on on Wednesday 27 April, 2013.

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

Guests were entertained by local dancers and served dinner as part of the signing celebrations.

The Road Rehabilition Project for Kiribati is a $AU38 million project that aims to improve the condition of South Tarawa and Betio’s main road network as well as help strengthen road finance and maintenance capacity.

Roads Project Contract Signing

Local dancers entertain guests after the official signing of the roads project contract. Photo: KAPIII

The three main components of the project are:

1. Infrastructure improvements: main civil works activities to be undertaken on South Tarawa road infrastructure, including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of paved roads on South Tarawa and the rehabilitation of Betio causeway

2. Road sector reform: keep activities to strengthen the road section and lead to more sustainable road infrastructure in South Tarawa

3. Project support: establishing of a project management unit, project associated incremental operation costs, a valuation specialists to identify the appropriate compensation rates for trees and other assets affected by the project, and audit of the project accounts

The Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project is being implements by the Government of Kiribati with the assistance and funding support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and AusAID.

Construction work is expected to begin mid-2013.

Related news…

Australia to give $15 million for road

For more information on the project, please visit the ADBWB and AusAID website pages dedicated to the project.

World Water Day 2013

Leaked: World Water Day fun

World Water Day 2013 was a hit thanks to all of the people who poured into Bairiki Square on Monday to partake in the celebrations.

World Water Day 2013

A stall at World Water Day 2013.

The Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU) together with Environment and Conservation Division (ECD), Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Public Utilities Board and the country’s leading water and sanitation projects banded together to provide a day full of entertainment and information stalls with interactive displays.

The projects will provide demonstrations (such as how to fix a leaking tap), a ‘water-theme’ quiz with prizes, kid’s games (have you heard of ‘eels and ladders’?) and general information about their projects at the event. Taken Bairiki and Rurubao schools will also wow crowds with local performances about water.

 

An engineer from Kiribati Adaptation Program - Phase III explains how to fix a leaking tap.

An engineer from Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III explains how to fix a leaking tap.

World Water Day is a United Nations initiative held annually around the world to highlight the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

This year’s theme was ‘Water Cooperation’ with the aim of recognising the need for cooperation to manage groundwater and rainwater resources, information exchange and financial and technical cooperation in Kiribati.

STSISP keeps learning fun at World Water Day 2013.

In the spirit of water cooperation, the South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Sector Project (STSISP), Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) and Water and Sanitation project in the Outer Islands of the Republic of Kiribati Phase I (KIRIWATSAN I) sponsored the event.

See more pictures of World Water Day on our Facebook page

Related: Celebrate World Water Day with a splash

 

Local IKiribati children face an uncertain future as their islands' capacity to support the population diminishes. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Education key to Kiribati’s future

Australia Network Pacific Correspondent Sean Dorney’s article on Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong’s recent interview with Australia Network’s Newsline and joint statement with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr to the UN Security Council …

The President of Kiribati says education is the key to the future of his people threatened by climate change.

President Anote Tong told Australia Network’s Newsline that if some of the Kiribati population has to relocate he wants them to qualify as skilled migrants, not climate refugees.

President Tong made a joint statement to the United Nations Security Council with Australia’s foreign minister, Bob Carr.

“We are asking for assistance from Australia to try and put this across… to the international community, to make the point that… climate change for some countries is a very serious security issue,” he said.

President Tong said his government’s purchase of land in Fiji is an investment for the future.

Read the full story at ABC News Online

Part of the main road on South Tarawa.

Australia to give $15 million for road

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr with His Excellency Anote Tong during his visit to Kiribati. Photo: Rimon/OB

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr with His Excellency Anote Tong during his visit to Kiribati. Photo: Rimon/OB

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced Australia will provide $15 million to rehabilitate 40 kilometres of main road in South Tarawa, Kiribati, which has been undermined by rising sea levels and coastal erosion.

Speaking from Kiribati, Senator Carr said the works were essential if the nation was to survive the impact of climate change.

“Kiribati is at the front line of climate change,” Senator Carr said.

“Its highest point is now just three metres above sea level.

“Unless action is taken, Kiribati will be uninhabitable by 2030 as a result of coastal erosion, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into drinking water.

“This project will provide more than 40 per cent of the population with better access to health clinics, schools and markets.

“Coastal roads will be rehabilitated to withstand rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change.

“We’ll also support the Kiribati Adaptation Program to replace 11 kilometres of damaged water mains and increase access to safe drinking water.

“I’m proud we can assist in rebuilding local roads and protecting basic Kiribati infrastructure from the devastating effects of human-induced climate change.”

Australia’s funding would be delivered over three years (2013-2015) in partnership with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Senator Carr will also join Kiribati President Anote Tong to present a statement to the UN Security Council on the need for climate change action to reduce the risk of future conflicts over scarce resources.

Local IKiribati children perform the Te Buke dance. They face an uncertain future as their islands capacity to support the population diminishes. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Human health in a warmer future

What effect will climate change have on health in the Pacific? ABC News Australia environment journalist Sarah Clarke is exploring this question in a five-part series for the ABC…

With climate change forecasts showing the Pacific will face hotter days and more extreme weather in the future, climate scientists and medical authorities say the implications could be serious for human health.

The (Australian) Federal Government’s Climate Commission is predicting a warmer Pacific will produce more heart attacks, strokes, exhaustion and more heat-related deaths.

Pacific countries are already copping the brunt of climate change, with water and food problems causing displacement.

The report also says there is the potential for a greater spread of disease transmitting mosquitoes as rainfall patterns change.

“It’s not only mosquitoes that will thrive in warmer and wetter conditions but it will also be influenced by their natural host populations before they spill over into humans,” he said.

Read the full story at abc.net.au/news

 

Tebunginako villagers stand in the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Tebunginako Village

Tebunginako villagers stand in the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus/The Age

Tebunginako villagers stand near the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus/The Age

The village of Tebunginako on the island of Abaiang is a barometer for what Kiribati can expect in the future. The community has had to relocate due to the effects of severe coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. These impacts are already felt on the atolls of Kiribati and will be exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

When a coconut tree dies, the decay starts at the top. First the fruit falls, then the leaves. All that is left is a desiccated trunk, cut off at half-mast. In a low-lying area flooded with seawater, the dead palms look like natural tidal gauges, the high water mark visible on their stranded remains. There is no shortage of them in Tebunginako, a tiny village on an outer island of the Pacific republic of Kiribati.

Over the past 40 years the villagers have seen the sea rise, storm surges become more frequent and spring tides more forceful. Eventually the erosion was so great that the village had to be abandoned. The remains of about 100 thatched homes and a community meeting hall, or maneabe, sit up to 30 metres offshore. ”The contamination of the groundwater started in the late ’70s, and after that erosion started and houses started to fall into the sea,” recalls Aata Maroieta, the village chief said. ”The force of erosion was stronger than the sea walls and eventually the Government said, ‘All you can do is relocate.”

At Tebunginako, the money might have to be spent on another relocation. The village was rebuilt about 15 years ago, initially about 50 metres from the shore. It wasn’t far enough. Each day at high tide a handful of houses and the village’s biggest buildings—a Catholic church and giant concrete maneabe—are surrounded by a saltwater moat as the sea flows in and floods what was once a fresh-water pond.

Just like the coast, the food supply is in retreat. The fresh water milkfish that once fed the entire village are long gone, and plant life is fatally overdosing on salt. Taro—a starchy vegetable that grows in groundwater pits more than 200 metres from the coast—is increasingly killed by king tides.

Each year, villagers need to head further inland to find fresh food and water, but Kiribati’s 33 coral atolls and islands are skinny and average a height above sea level of only two metres. Inland only goes back so far.

”It is very difficult to find food these days,” Mr Maroieta says. ”It makes us feel sad that there is nothing left of our village. This is the place of our ancestors and we feel threatened and vulnerable.”

Case study 1: Tarawa

 

This sea wall is all that protects these homes in the village of Abarao on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Tarawa

This sea wall is all that protects these homes in the village of Abarao on the island of Tarawa Copyright Finn Frandsen Politiken 2

This sea wall is all that protects these homes in the village of Abarao on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Finn Frandsen/Politiken

According to a World Bank report, Kiribati’s capital of Tarawa—where nearly half the population lives—will be 25-54 per cent inundated in the south and 55-80 per cent in the north by mid-century unless there is significant adaptation. Factor in what this means for poisoning of groundwater, destruction of limited arable land and spread of disease, and you have an unlivable national capital.

Kiribati’s response to climate change is focused on adaptation. Its adaptation program, backed in part by AusAID, is carrying out a scientific risk assessment for Tarawa. Kautuna Kaitara, national director of the Kiribati Adaptation Program, says the country’s airstrip will be slowly “eaten away” and water supply spoiled unless there is swift action.

In the meantime, locals are forced to take things into their own hands. Albert Ientau has lived on the water’s edge in Abarao village since 1982. He has continually had to rebuild his sea wall, and more. Mr Ientau is no fool—his re-built house is on makeshift stilts—but the water is lapping at is door before high tide, but as you can see here in this photo series, he often has to roll large boulders into the water in what appears a forlorn exercise to prevent it from returning.

Many villagers have little or no understanding of climate change, but say they know they are witnessing a shift: increasingly intrusive seas, as well as stronger and less predictable winds and more intense heat. “The average i-Kiribati [Kiribati inhabitant] certainly thinks it’s getting hotter,” says Emil Shutz, a former government minister who now runs tours for the country’s few recreational visitors. “Ten years ago they could fish all day, but not any more – it is just too hot.”

There are parts of Kiribati where you can’t see the water, most notably in the southern Tarawa hub of Betio, but the threat of climate change is consistently there. The first thing you see when you land are the sandbags that try, and fail, to stop spring tides from flooding the only airstrip. If you are forced to go to hospital, you may get your feet wet. It is regularly inundated.

Read more case studies