Category Archives: Media room

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Government land purchase within grasp

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Land in Fiji to be purchased by Kiribati, Natoavatu Estate

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 23 August, 2013

Kiribati Government plan to purchase a piece of land in Vanua Levu has got the nod from the Fiji Islands Government, bringing Kiribati closer to its wish purchase land in Fiji.

Under Fiji’s law all land purchase has to be consented first by the Fiji Government. “We’ve got the Government’s consent when Fiji’s Lands and Mineral Resources Minister signed our application for consent to a dealing, as required under Section 6 & 7 Land Sales Act, Cap 137 of Fiji’s law, last month (July)” a statement from the Office of Te Beretitenti said.

“There are conditions of course such as the transfer of property be complete within 3 months, funds for this purchase be brought from an offshore account, clearance from the Commissioner from the Inland Revenue and Governor, Reserve Bank of Fiji be sought and that approval is also sought from the Fiji Trade & Investment Board if this property will involve with commercial or business activity,” the statement said.

The consent means Kiribati’s plan to purchase this land known as Natoavatu Estate from owners and trustees, the Church of England is about to roll out.

According to the Office of Te Beretitenti, Government negotiations over the land began about 2 years ago, in 2011 Government finally identified Natoavatu as an ideal land to buy followed by Parliament’s approval of 9.3 million Australian dollars in 2012 for the purchase.

Natoavatu Estate is being looked after by a Manager employed by Trustees of the Church of England and there are no settlements whatsoever except for lengths and depth of lush forestry.

Natoavatu Estate is measured 5,451 acres or fifteen times bigger than Betio, the commercial heart and most populated area of Kiribati.

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

Social Dimension of Climate Change

The Minister for Environment, Lands & Agricultural Development and Chairman to Parliamentary Climate Change Committee, Hon. Tiarite Tioti Kwong launched the Kiribati Documentary on Social Dimension of Climate Change on Friday 02 August 2013 at Parliament club, Ambo.

The documentary supported by the EU Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) Global Climate project, shows the impacts of climate change on the densely populated island of South Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital.

“Variability is threatening our existence as a nation and people, but Climate Change is now deriving us from the basic necessities of life, water, food, health and our ecosystem,” he said.

“To meet this challenge, all stakeholders within country and externally need to work as one. Mainstreaming climate change into national priorities to be able to come up with focused solutions to work against Climate Change — whether through adaptation investments, technical assistance or public awareness is therefore an urgent call.” Hon Tiarite Tiooti Kwong stated.

Watch the full video below.

Also read…
WHO links climate change and disease increase
Climate Change and Health
Climate Change and People

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Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project ground breaking in Eita

Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project underway

Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project ground breaking in Eita

Local dancers beside the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project signboard outside Eita Maneaba during the ground breaking ceremony. Picture Aretitea Teeta/AusAID

The ground breaking ceremony for the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project (KRRP) was a success on Friday 26 July 2013 at Eita village, a historic site on Kiribati’s capital, South Tarawa.

“This is an important milestone of achievement, a green light for the go ahead of the actual construction of the road in the upcoming days” said Hon. Kirabuke Teiaua, Minister for Public Works and Utilities in his speech.

The KRRP is a $48.2 million project – funded by AusAID, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank in partnership with the Government of Kiribati – to reconstruct 35 kilometers of road for the 60,000 people living on South Tarawa.

The Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project  will provide more than 40 per cent of the population with better access to health clinics, schools and markets as well as assist the Government and the people of Kiribati in many ways such as:

  • A significant reduction in road maintenance costs
  • Improvement in health (less noise and dust) and road safety (wider pavement with more bus passing bays)
  • A reduction in travel times
  • Reduced wear and tear on vehicles

Rehabilitation of the road will start when the materials arrive in October and will take about 690 days to complete.

The Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase III (KAPIII) working on freshwater supply and coastal protection has on the other hand identified 8 locations on South Tarawa that is threatening public assets which includes inter alia the road in terms of coastal erosion. Tonkin and Taylor, contracted by the Government of Kiribati will review the designs for coastal protection works on the eight (8) sites identified.

“The arrangements agreed are such that KAPIII will work with the KRRP contractor to build coastal protection works on the eight sites distributed as follows – that works on 6 sites will be implemented by KRRP contractor McConnell Dowell with funds provided by KAPIII while works on the other 2 sites will be contracted out to local contractors.  Construction supervision for the former will be provided by an engineering contractor Roughton Int’l while the latter will be supervised by MPWU through the services of KAPIII Senior Civil Engineer.” KAPIII Program Manager, Kautuna Kaitara said.

Related News…
No potholes in road contract signing
Australia to give $15 million for road

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Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Mangroves for coastal protection

Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 25 July, 2013

The Environment and Conservation Division and the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III to Increase Coastal Resilience are once again working together, this time to benefit communities in Nonouti, Tabiteuea South, Tabiteuea North and Beru. The joint project has already visited Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama to
promote and undertake mangrove planting as both a mitigation and adaptation option for coastline protection and marine resource enhancement.

Communities on Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama are now working together with Government to plant mangroves and protect their own coastlines from erosion as a result of education and awareness on mangrove importance and planting carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) and the Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII).

The$150,000, four-year mangrove project is funded by KAPIII while the implementation is undertaken by ECD. The project commenced in early 2013 and will end in 2016.

The KAPIII project continues and expands on the highly successful work on mangroves to prevent further coastal erosion in local communities under KAPII in 2010. The initial stage under KAPII worked with communities to plant mangroves in Makin, Butaritari, Maiana, Aranuka, North Tarawa and South Tarawa.

 “The project is a very worthwhile project as it is a source of defense against coastal erosion and we are very fortunate to have ECD as the implementers of this project because they have a lot of passion and with their passion the project has been carried out successfully in the outer islands,” Mr. Kaitara said.

“The ECD’s role is very important and involves communicating with the community to get their commitment in mangrove planting as a ‘soft’ option source for coastal protection,” KAPIII Program Manager Kautuna Kaitara said.

 “The project has been effective on the outer islands because communities have that commitment for the project, which in turn has led to the successfulness and sustainability of the project in the outer islands,” he said. 

ECD Project Coordinator for Invasive Alien Species Tekimau Otiawa said the ECD emphasised to communities the importance of working together to protect their coastlines. For example, communities were encouraged to have a mangrove day to learn about and plant mangroves together as a team, she said.

“We also emphasise to schools in the outer islands to include in their activities the importance of mangroves and to have field trips to mangrove areas. To practice and understand the importance of mangrove planting at an early age is very crucial,” Ms Otiawa said.

Mr Kaitara added an informed decision has to be made with respect to the application of ‘soft’ options such as mangrove planting or ‘hard’ option like seawalls to deter coastal erosion. He explained that using the soft or hard options really depend on the outcome of the assessment of the area affected.  It is common to see in our situation the application of ‘soft’ option on the lagoon side of the island and ‘hard’ option on the ocean side of the island however, there are cases that both options can be applied in the lagoon or on the ocean side of the island.

About KAPIII:

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’s motto is Fresh water supply. Coastal protection. Our Future.

One of KAPIII’s key components is to increase coastal resilience by using soft options such as mangrove planting or hard options such as seawalls to reduce coastal erosion and protect native habitats, which are home to important sea life such as the sea life we feed our families.

There are 4 types of Mangroves in Kiribati, namely Te Nikabubuti (White mangrove), Te Aitoa (Black mangrove), Te Tongo Buangi (Oriental mangrove) and Te Tongo (Red mangrove).

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.

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Cultural identity theme to 34th Independence

Last year's Independence Day celebrations at Bairiki. Photo: Contributed.

Last year’s Independence Day celebrations at Bairiki. Photo: Contributed.

Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) applauds the selection of this year’s Independence Anniversary theme, to ‘maintain cultural identity in development’ (‘babwaina te katei inanon te rikirake’).

KAPIII Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara said as a development project tasked to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change, the KAPIII team was fully committed to upholding a culturally aware approach to all projects.

“KAPIII is tasked with increasing water supply and improving coastal protection in various local communities across the country and to ignore culture in any of these communities or projects would be very devastating,” Mr Kaitara said.

“I would like to congratulate the selection of 34th Independence Anniversary theme and hope it is reflected upon with some thought because our culture is very unique and without this identity Kiribati would be lost forever. Happy Independence celebrations to everyone.”

The Gilbert Islands became independent as Kiribati on 12 July 1979. In the Treaty of Tarawa, signed shortly after independence and ratified in 1983, the United States relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix Islands and those of the Line Islands that are part of Kiribati territory.

The 34th Independence Anniversary celebrations will feature an exciting and action-packed week of events, starting this Thursday 4 July, 2013 with the Inter Secondary School Competition at Bairiki Field.

Download the 34th Independence Anniversary – 2013 program (208KB, pdf)

Friday, the anniversary’s official day one, will see the continuation of the Inter Secondary School Competition from 7am as well as an early final inspection for gardening before the evening’s celebrations begin with the Opening Ceremony, live on Te Kabao BPA, at Bairiki Field from 7pm.

Key activities throughout the week include:

Day 2 (Saturday 6th July):

9am: Powerlifting, Bairiki Square
10am: JSS/Open Semi Final Soccer, Police Field Betio

Day 3 (Sunday 7 July):

7pm: Gospel songs competition, Bairiki Field

Day 4 (Monday 8 July):

11am: Wrestling Day one, Bairiki Field
11am: Weightlifting Day one, Bairiki Square
11am: Boat race, Bairiki Side
7pm: Open Talent, Bairiki Field

Day 5 (Tuesday 9 July):

9am: Wrestling Day two, Bairiki Field
9am: Soccer knockout SSS, Police Field Betio
9am to 5pm: Taekwando Final, KNYC
10am: Powerlifting Final, Bairiki Square
5pm: Cultural dancing Competition/JSS and SCC, Bairiki Field

Day 6 (Wednesday 10 July):

6pm: Beauty Contest, RKU Stadium

Day 7 (Thursday 11 July):

3pm: Boxing, Bairiki Volleyball Court
6pm: Battle of the Band (TSKL), RKU Stadium

Day 8 (Independence Day, 12 July, 2013):

From 6.30am at RKU Stadium
Finals from 10am at various locations

Download the 34th Independence Anniversary – 2013 program (208KB, pdf)

Sunset in Tarawa.

Normal to low rainfall for Kiribati

Sunset in Tarawa.

Sunset in Tarawa.

The Kiribati Meteorological Service Division of the Office of The President has released its latest quarterly climate outlook for Kiribati.

The outlook predicts normal to below rainfall (less than 198.5mm) across Kiribati from July to September, 2013.

In addition to this, in terms of the El Nino – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the outlook reports neutral conditions will continue with the possibility of a La Nina to arrive later in the year.

“In most cases, La Nina (is) usually associated with suppressed rainfall within the Kiribati region,” the Kiribati Meteorological Service Division reported.

“Though a season cycle, Kiribati is currently in it’s (sic) dry season of May down to October.”

The full report, including a break-down of rainfall from each meteorological station in Kiribati, is available on the Kiribati Meteorological Service Division page under ‘seasonal climate information’.

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Local i-Kiribati children face an uncertain future in the face of climate change. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Kiribati selects climate change framework

Key Note Address By Hon. Vice President, Teima Onorio

(On the occasion of the Nansen Initiative Pacific Regional Consultations, Edgewater Resort, Rarotonga, May 21 – 25 2013)

Jodtjif Nansen said and I quote “Nothing great and good can be furthered without international cooperation” and might I add through friendship and with respect.

Chair,

Our gracious host HE Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands,

I recognize the presence of HE Sprent Dabwido, President of Nauru,

Deputy Prime Ministers,

Honourable Ministers,

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

I bring to you warm greetings from the Government and people of Kiribati.

Kam na bane ni mauri and Kia orana!

Gratitude

Allow me Chair, to reciprocate the friendship and warm hospitality extended to us and members of our delegations by thanking most sincerely HE Prime Minister Puna, the Government and the people of the Cook Islands: “Meitaki Ma’ata!”

Let me extend my country’s and my own heartfelt gratitude to the movers of the Nansen Initiative, Norway and Switzerland and to the other members of the Initiative Steering Group and the European Union for their contributions to this important initiative.

I wish also to thank the organisers of these consultations, Nansen Initiative Secretariat staff and of course the Forum and SPREP for the excellent coordination to this event.

Kiribati attaches the highest importance to this consultation and follow up activities and I wish to convey President Tong’s support and apologies for being unable to attend due to a prior engagement and on whose behalf, I present this statement.

Kiribati Perspective

Kiribati has decided on a Climate Change and Climate Change Adaptation framework as a response to adapt to the slow onset of climate change and sea level rise, the framework that has the consensus and mandate of the people. The Framework outlines that (with the exception of Tuvalu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands), Kiribati will always be different when compared with other countries in the region, the difference of having no land to retreat to. That is, if the catastrophe is inevitable, we need to prepare ourselves and our people for eventual migration.

Kiribati has also embarked on radical changes to improve course offerings for training and upskilling in the technical and vocational skills areas to prepare our population in the event that if they wish to migrate, they do so with dignity. These include, the improvements of the technical and vocational programs accredited to International standards to prepare our young people for competition in the global labor market such as the; TVET upskilling and training (Australian standards) and infrastructure expansion; Maritime Training for Merchant and Fishing seafarers (STCW 95 approved); Nursing Training (require alignment with international standards); Kiribati Teachers’ College and the Police Service.

Movement of People within Boarders and Regionally

Within our national boarder, social obligation has seen families providing refuge in their homes and on their lands, providing family members to relocate to, due to massive coastal erosions. A number of villages, public buildings

and schools have been relocated due to extreme spring tides and severe coastal erosions. The alarming rate of coastal erosion that has been reported for the past two years has given rise to massive landmass loss, hence, have raised grave concerns for the Government.

The Seasonal Employment Programmes in Australia and in New Zealand through exposure of IKiribati people participating in the programs, provide life experience and working conditions outside of Kiribati and cultural norms which are different from the local setting. Positive initiatives by the labour receiving countries have shown the willingness to provide on the ground training for the workers whilst on assignment that add knowledge and skill areas, should migration eventuate. The other important project that involves the upskilling of English skills for primary school teachers will also form a firm foundation for the trade courses offered at TVET institutions, as students progress from formal education. These are small, but important stepping stones towards eventual migration.

At this juncture, allow me Chair to acknowledge with appreciation the ongoing seasonal work programs with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.

Regional Relevance

The most recent water shortage in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the floods in the Fiji Islands, the tsunami that hit Samoa and Tonga, hurricanes which swept up Tubuai in Maohi Nui, Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, Wallis and Futuna, the northern and eastern sides of the Fiji Islands and surrounding island groups, all figure in the scope of natural disasters that will see the displacement of people within respective boarders and assistance is needed to provide proper protection for those affected. This protection is essential as the young population from Kiribati and the region alike, begin to migrate on their own with the sound knowledge of climate change and what is in store for them, in the future.

I have highlighted the Kiribati perspective which I have no doubt can be put into context by any of the neighboring countries with little or no difference in the island vulnerable experiences, we all are facing.

Protection Agenda

The Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda kick starts the discussion on what potential recipient countries would need to consider outside of national legal frameworks when imposed upon by forcefully removed people. There are serious questions that need to be answered and I know the Protection Agenda will be agreed to and it is my genuine hope that as we progress with the consultations, we are able to provide insights from our individual country experiences.

The Initiative has shown that indeed there is social responsibility in the international community and that our efforts at the national levels to address internal movement of people affected by the sudden and slow onset of climate change and sea level rise are starting to receive international attention. The Protection Agenda is a soft but essential measure as it addresses a legal gap that exists amongst others, in the protection of displaced people outside of national borders.

The Stage is Set

The outcomes document of COP 18 highlights and correctly so the importance of cooperation between all nations that puts in place a platform of friendship and collaboration upon which adaptation activities may be launched.

Setting aside the character of the disaster to be used as a basis to trigger assistance and replacing it with a more appropriate and practical approach of determining whether or not the disaster in any form triggers displacement, is a better measure. The Nansen Initiative has responded to the challenge and invitation in paragraph 14(f) of the Cancun Outcome Agreement.

Challenge

The international community is engaging and I acknowledge with appreciation their ongoing support and I challenge us all to be candid in our country specific experiences. I wish the consultations and deliberations in these few days a success with fruitful outcomes for the benefit of our respective peoples.

To conclude, let me bestow upon us all, our traditional Kiribati blessings of Te Mauri (Peace), Te Raoi (Health) ao te Tabomoa (Prosperity).

Kam bati n rabwa, Thank you very much!

Former Kiribati president and member of the Eminent Persons group which framed the original political vision for the Pacific Plan, the Hon Teburoro Tito MP, chats with the Review team’s Peter Bazeley about the significance of the Biketawa Declaration.

Kiribati seeks more from regionalism

Former Kiribati president and member of the Eminent Persons group which framed the original political vision for the Pacific Plan, the Hon Teburoro Tito MP, chats with the Review team’s Peter Bazeley about the significance of the Biketawa Declaration.

Former Kiribati president and member of the Eminent Persons group which framed the original political vision for the Pacific Plan, the Hon Teburoro Tito MP, chats with the Review team’s Peter Bazeley about the significance of the Biketawa Declaration.

The Pacific Plan Review consulted Kiribati stakeholders in in early May, 2013, meeting politicians, senior government officials, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Kiribati Association of NGOs, as well as the country’s bilateral and multilateral development partners. The team was also privileged to meet Kiribati’s first president and former PIFS Secretary General, the Hon Sir Ieremia Tabai.

Once again the often parlous situation in which the smaller island states find themselves was emphasised, as was the disproportionate difficulty that the small central Pacific islands – in particular – have in connecting with the region and economic opportunity. “Can we not aspire at least to be equal members of the Pacific community?”, a senior diplomat questioned.

Kiribati has always played an active role in promoting regionalism, as it did in shaping the original vision of what turned into the Pacific Plan –including the concept of perhaps eventually sharing sovereignty on some key areas.

While in Kiribati, the Review was reminded of the significance of the Biketawa Declaration signed by Forum leaders under Kiribati’s chairmanship in 2000. This Declaration committed members to a set of regional values on rights and good governance and institutionalised, for the first time, the principles of collective action across the Forum to address regional crises and other critical issues.

However Kiribati stakeholders questioned how well served they and other smaller island states are, now, by the Pacific Plan and the institutions that surround it.

HE Anote Tong at the Pacific Energy Summit 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Kiribati applies to join G77

Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong announced his Government’s intent to apply for membership of the G77.

At the second day of the G77 high level meeting in Fiji earlier this week, His Excellency announced a forthcoming application and told the summit he believed G77 could assist Kiribati in campaigning for help to deal with rising sea levels and climate change..

“I think it would lend greater force to the advocacy that we have been campaigning on,” His Excellency said.

The G77 is the United Nations’ grouping for poor and developing countries.

Find out more about G77

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front before the other panelists, and the nation.

Wet weather fails to dampen public hearing spirits

Morning rain did not dampen the mood at Kiribati’s first-ever National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change on Friday, where leaders addressed the nation on the importance of everyone working together to build national resilience against climate change impacts.

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Official page of the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change

Thankfully, despite the heavy rain overnight, the skies opened up to permit a late start to the event at Bairiki Square, which coincidentally or not translates from i-Kiribati to English as the “place where things happen”.

President Anote Tong addressed the nation at the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change at Bairiki Square.

President Anote Tong addressed the nation at the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change at Bairiki Square on Friday 19 April, 2013.

His Excellency Anote Tong was the first of 10 panelists to take the stage to address the crowded public square where he reiterated the importance of building both consensus and public understanding of climate change and climate change impacts in Kiribati.

“We must prepare the next generation to address the effects of climate change,” His Excellency said*.

These words were more dramatically reiterated in a moving youth performance by Kiribati Health and Family Association (KHFA) at half-time, where, in the skit, a young girl in tears asks her dad “Dad, what will happen to me and my Kiribati in 50 years time?*”

Next, second panel member Kiribati National Council of Churches Chairman Bishop Paul Mea took the stage.

Bishop Mea told the public, both in attendance and aired live across the country, that climate change was a social issue.

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front before the other panelists, and the nation.

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front of other panelists and before the nation.

Human interference continued to contribute to the impacts of climate change, Bishop Mea continued, citing Tarawa causeways Nanikai and Teaoraereke as well as the Dai Nippon contributing to the loss of some of the nation’s islets.

Leader of the Opposition Party (Karikirakean te I-Kiribati Party) Dr Tetaua Taitai next acknowledged climate change as a serious issue, but one that should not be the main priority for Kiribati. Instead the more immediate issues of population growth, overcrowding, water and food security, unemployment, education and health should be first addressed, he said.

He added, where climate change was a focus, more attention was needed to how the nation utilised its own resources with that of external resources and that it was necessary for experts to have a sole focus in the context of Kiribati instead of generalising the nation with the rest of the world.

The public raised questions to the panel in person and via telephone and Facebook throughout the day.

*Please note: quotes have been translated from i-Kiribati to English

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