Category Archives: Media room

Hillary Institute

President awarded Hillary Laureate

President Tong receives his award from Hillary Institute  Chairman David Caygill. Photo: Rimon/OB

President Tong receives his award from Hillary Institute Chairman David Caygill. Photo: Rimon/OB

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong was awarded the 2012 Hillary Laureate in a reception at the New Zealand High Commission in Tarawa, Kiribati on Tuesday night.

The Hillary Institute of International Leadership selected President Tong as its 4th annual Hillary Laureate awardee and the first for Leadership in  “Climate Equity”, is the Institute’s  leadership focus until 2015.

The Laureate is given to a leading social entrepreneur who also embodies the humanitarian commitment of the late Sir Edmund Hillary, a celebrated New Zealand public figure (he even appears on the New Zealand five-dollar note).

The Institute’s chairman, David Caygill, says no nation symbolises more dramatically than Kiribati both the impact of climate change and the inequity of that impact on different nations.

“President Tong has been tireless in his efforts to draw these concerns to the attention of the world. We hope this award assists his endeavours,” Caygill said.

Hillary Summit Governor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, added: “I am truly delighted at the selection of President Anote Tong. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this recognition and honour.”

A spokesperson for President Tong said His Excellency was honoured to have been selected and “extremely pleased to accept such honour on behalf of his people and his nation and others similarly affected by climate change”.

President Tong is the recipient of many awards and recognition for his leadership, the most recent being the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean.

Former  Hillary Laureates are Jeremy Leggett (UK-2009), Peggy Liu (China-2010) and Aimee Christensen (USA-2011). Ms. Liu also won the Hillary Step prize earlier this year.

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

‘I-Kiribati want to migrate with dignity’

Kiribati media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan’s enlightening opinion piece is receiving international attention, most recently featuring in the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the full article, below…

On an average day we can look out across our lagoons – everything is calm and peaceful, people are fishing and going about their daily business – everything is at it should be and has been for many generations.

But this is very deceptive.  We now know that we are being subjected to a gradual, creeping & insidious process which directly threatens our future and our ability to live in our homeland – our people will be scattered, and the survival of our unique culture, lifestyle and even our language, may be lost forever.

Our awareness of climate change & sealevel rise is relatively new and it was only in the late 90s that our communities started hearing about it. Our people were confused as to how our small, low lying islands in the central Pacific can be affected by the activities of others in the distant developed world.

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

In our traditional village culture, we all understand that if somebody does a wrong, they have to reciprocate for their unacceptable behaviour towards an individual or the community as a whole. We are therefore left puzzled and challenged by the fact that the continued abuse of the environment by wealthy nations means we are the ones who have to suffer.  Our sense of fair play, of right and wrong, and of justice is being severely tested.

In looking at his community’s flooded mwaneaba – meeting house – the Rev. Eria Maere  observes, “Others are reaping the benefits of all these gases and things, but we are paying the price.  It’s too difficult – our kids are worried – where will they be in 10-15 years time?  There is no love for the people of the islands.”

Back in 1999, we assumed that we would all be climbing coconut trees to escape the rising tides which would innundate our tiny islands – but we now know it is not as simple as that.

On average our islands are only 2 or 3 metres above sealevel, and are often less than 800 metres across at the widest point.   Early advice was that we should move away from the coast, but as President Anote Tong has noted, “There is nowhere to move back to – you’ll either be in the lagoon or the ocean.”

What we now experience are more frequent storms which attack our coastal defences, and erode our precious land and crops – whole communities have had to be re-located.   Changing climate patterns have also brought extensive periods of drought, which threaten our vulnerable & scarce fresh water supply.

Rev. Eria Mwaerere and his community's mwaneaba, which is monthly threatened by rising tides.

Rev. Eria Mwaerere and his community’s mwaneaba, which is monthly threatened by rising tides.

The fragile water lens beneath each of our islands is very vulnerable to salt water intrusion.  This happens with all the negative scenarios – when our coasts are eroded by storms, when rising sealevels intrude from beneath, and when drought causes shrinkage of the lens. On top of this we now have major problems with over population on South Tarawa and human induced pollution of our scarce water resource.

Without fresh water, there can be no life – this, along with sea level rise, is the major threat to our existence.

We became more intimately involved with the issue when our video unit, with Australian support, assisted the Government with its presentation at the COP 15 Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

At that time our President said “Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of the 21st century.  It calls into question the ability of our international institutions, and our compassion as human beings, to face this issue.  We cannot handle this alone”

Throughout history nations went to war when their sovereignty or survival was threatened, and it was in a similar state of mind that our small platoon went, well armed, to Copenhagen.  With a combination of culture, human observations and the latest that science had to offer, the Kiribati Side Event attracted a large and appreciative audience – there were many tears evident.     We, had given it our best shot.

It is therefore very difficult to describe the feeling of devastation when, in the following week, Pres. Obama and other world leaders gathered.  The degree of cynicism shown by the leaders of the world’s major polluters in torpedoing any chance of a binding agreement on emission levels was astounding.  Their agenda was purely economic and related only to the generation of individual & corporate wealth. We were left with a strong sense of anger, of sadness – and of betrayal.

Now, more than three years later, very little has changed.  In the past month we have learned that new and improved satellite technology has revealed that the oceans may be rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates.  (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – PIK)

In the meantime the international – and donor – community calls on us to “adapt.”

Yes, we accept that we need to do more to protect our coasts and water resources threatened by thoughtless pollution, but serious and sustained adaptation is a great unknown –it requires major funds and some of the world’s finest minds to point the way.

The majority of I-Kiribati have no wish to live in another country (NTNK Nat Survey, 2011) but mounting evidence suggests that we may soon have little choice in the matter – therefore migration may become the major element of adaptation.

But, there’s a problem.  Unlike our neighbours Tuvalu (Pop: approx 10,000) we have no significant or sympathetic migration relationship or policy with any country.

The current Kiribati population is more than 103,000 (Nat. Census – 2011).   How will the region handle a sudden influx of such large numbers of homeless people?

Very obviously it needs to start now.  In some ways the beginning steps are already underway.  With significant assistance from Australia, the government has commenced a major program of education reform, extending into vocational education which is working towards achieving Australian standards.  These steps come under the desire for I-Kiribati to migrate with dignity and contribute, rather than become a burden on their new hosts.

With regard to Climate Change the world chose not to hear our cry – will it be the same with the issue of migration?

Writing this piece has been quite testing – as a realist I can perhaps see the inevitability of migration.   But on a personal level, I have no wish to live anywhere else – this is my home, this is where my ancestors lie, and this is the only place where I can fully be the person I am – a woman of Kiribati.

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.

His Excellency Anote Tong

‘Sustainable development, climate change inseparable’

Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong’s address to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, January 31- February 2 2013…

 Opening remarks

Every year, we converge here in this beautiful city of Delhi to take stock of our progress towards achieving sustainable development and to continue our quest for the elusive formula needed to remedy the associated challenges including that of climate change. But such a mission would seem impossible if we are not willing to accept that these remedies will come with costs and must call for sacrifice. In other words we want our pie but are also eating it at an ever increasing rate. But ladies and gentlemen the law of balance does not permit that.

Dr. Pachauri, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, Chairman of the Governing Council of TERI; Y.E Mr Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana; Y.E Mr. James Alex Michel, President of Seychelles; fellow leaders; distinguished participants; friends from the business communities; ladies and gentleman … Kam na Mauri, Namaskar and Greetings to you all.

Once again I am deeply honoured and grateful for the opportunity to address the 2013 session of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. Not only is it a pleasure to meet old friends again and to make new acquaintances but more importantly it provides us with the opportunity to interact as like-minded people, to deliberate on humankind’s ongoing quest for solutions to ensure the survival of our planet and that of humanity.

We would not be all here today if we did not believe in the value of the continuity of life on earth and that it is under serious threat. I have no doubt that we all agree that these threats are global in nature and that their solution calls for collective global action; that the only way forward to make any progress in addressing these challenges, is by acting together, as one global family.  But sadly in spite of our ongoing rhetoric we have up to this moment remained unable to achieve what we set out to accomplish simply because it is not convenient.  But giving up the quest is not an option because the future we want for our children and our children’s children is at stake.

The Future We Want

In June last year at the historical Rio+20 Conference, the world defined and produced the Future We Want document to advocate a stronger case for sustainable development as the way forward to saving the world from the chains of unsustainable and selfish rates of development. In the 20 years since the Earth Summit of 1992, the Future We Want has now become the most important guide in much of the ongoing discussions on sustainable development including those that will take place here at this summit. But once again as with the holy texts we will as individuals and nations have our own interpretations of the Future We Want. And I believe that herein lies the secret to our inability to make progress on this very critical debate – since we come on board the debating stage with our own predetermined mandates based on our individual national priorities as determined by our respective Governments. We are consistently repeating the mistake of believing that the ongoing discussions (negotiations) on global challenges such as sustainable development and climate change are just another opportunity to protect and to ensure that our levels of GDP are not put in jeopardy by any remedies proposed or binding agreements concluded to address these issues.

The Future We Want will unavoidably call for a frank assessment of our international decision making structure. It requires bold but rational political commitment on a global scale. We must be brutally honest in accepting the reality that unless and until we can sit at a single Cabinet meeting table to deliberate on the future we want for our planet and our future generations the prospects for success are bleak indeed. Once again I pose the question “Whose interests are we pursuing? Are we here to secure the future of each other’s children or just our own?”

We no doubt all agree that humankind is a highly complicated species with the capacity to do immense good but also unimaginable evil. History has time and again demonstrated how true this has been as we recall the wonderful deeds of sacrifice of such personalities as Mother Theresa of India, visionary and courageous leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi but at the same time history has witnessed and will forever condemn the horrors which are a product of bad leadership. Today we stand at the crossroad in history to be judged by our action or inaction as leaders and citizens in addressing these critical challenges facing humanity on a global scale.

I believe that The Future We Want must acknowledge and address the special need of those at the extreme end of the vulnerability scale. Countries like Kiribati and the Maldives and other small islands grappling with the challenges of climate change while at the same time struggling to meet MDG commitments. For countries on the frontline of the climate change challenge, sustainable development and climate change are inseparable. Our uncertain future is a clear and loud statement on the urgent need for resolving the debate on sustainable development – of what we as a global community have failed to do.

Even at the risk of repeating myself, I would like to refer to our initiative in closing off 400,000 square km of our EEZ from commercial fishing activities. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is our contribution to global oceans conservation efforts which has now been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Following on from that in 2010 the Pacific Oceanscape was adopted as a regional initiative of the Pacific Island nations. In 2011 and 2012 other Pacific countries including the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Australia and the adjoining Pacific waters of the United States have been designated marine protected as components of the Pacific Oceanscape. At the Rio + 20 Conference the World Bank also launched the Global Oceans Partnership program thereby adding momentum to what began as a national initiative. The momentum is growing as more countries in the Pacific are considering making similar commitments. My purpose in raising this issue is twofold – the first is simply to demonstrate that establishing such global conservation initiatives are achievable; the second is to note that this has been achieved without prolonged and contentious negotiations.

Post 2015 and where to from here?

The most important question challenging us today at this summit is whether our ongoing efforts in addressing the issues of sustainable development and climate change remain relevant and (or indeed) effective?

From the perspective of a small island (but large ocean state) like Kiribati my answer would be no. The next question is “what are the chances of positive progress in ever concluding an agreement on climate change?” Very little I would answer. So do we perish as a species?

Ladies and gentlemen let me share with you some of the thoughts which have flashed through my mind in moments of frustration and desperation. And I do take full responsibility if they may come across as being radical and unrealistic. I dream of having a broad (without details) agreement on issues over which there is consensus based on science. I believe we all agree that no one wants to destroy this planet. Based on this broad consensus I believe we could examine existing international agreements with the objective of adding climate change and sustainable development components where there are none or giving greater force to those clauses drafted by those visionary people who at the time had no conclusive information on climate change that we do today.

Existing international arrangements in maritime transportation for example have provisions dealing with polluting of the marine environment but none restricting the continued use of inefficient marine engines to set acceptable levels of GHG emissions. We in the Western and Central Tuna fisheries as (Pacific Island countries) Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have unilaterally set some conditions of access into our EEZ which may not conform strictly  with the existing provisions of UNCLOS but which we believe to be very much in the spirit of UNCLOS which enshrines the principle of protecting the commons. I believe that if we take the opportunity to scrutinize other international agreements in trade, aviation and others we may well find a pathway which may be less contentious than the current UNFCCC negotiations. As I said these are just desperate propositions born of desperation and frustration. I challenge all of us here especially TERI to give it a look but I take full responsibility if it turns out to be a silly proposition.

Closing remarks

Mr. Chair, I look forward to the discussions that will unfold here today and in the next few days of this summit. Before I take my seat, I want to take this opportunity to thank TERI, the Board of Directors and of course Dr. Pachauri for remaining faithful to this cause and maintaining pressure for solutions.  I also extend my gratitude to the Government and people of India for the warmth and the kind hospitality extended to us since our arrival into this great city.

In conclusion I wish the 2013 DSDS deliberations every success and I extend and share with you our traditional blessings of Te Mauri (Health), Te Raoi(Peace) ao Te Tabomoa (Prosperity). Kam rabwa.

For more information visit the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit website.

His Excellency Anote Tong

Tong talks sustainability in India

‘Adapting to the impacts of climate change’ is a key theme at this year’s Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) in India, where our own President HE Anote Tong will represent Kiribati as a key speaker.

His Excellency Anote Tong

His Excellency Anote Tong

The 13th annual event, which runs from 31 January to 2 February in New Delhi, India, has emerged as one of the leading forums on sustainable development and aims to explore the dimensions of promoting resource-efficient development as well as attempt to strengthen the global momentum for green growth as outlined at the Rio+20 Conference.

Other themes on the agenda include ‘mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and associated co-benefits’; ’employment and growth potential of a green economy’; and ‘defining the future we want’.

The event will host various heads of State and Government, thought leaders, policy makers, academics and academics, including President of the Asian Development Bank Haruhiko Kuroda and Former President of the Former Soviet Union HE Mikhail Gorbachev.

For more information visit the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit website.


The vandalised transformer in August, 2012, before the new parts arrived.

Tarawa water reserve back online

Press release, Tarawa, January 3, 2012

South Tarawa’s ground water supply has increased by approximately 20 per cent thanks to a joint operation between the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII).

The Buota Water Reserve was successfully re-opened recently after more than one year of inactivity due to a loss of power and vandalism to the site.

PUB Chief Executive Officer Kevin Rouatu said the connection was first severed when the Tanaea Bridge collapsed in June 2008.

“In September 2009, the United States Navy installed a new bridge across the Buota-Tanaea channel and the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase II re-laid new pipes for the water connection in 2010,” Mr Rouatu said.

During the time the water reserve was offline, Mr Rouatu said much of the pumping infrastructure was vandalised making it necessary to replace and rehabilitate all of the pumping chambers as well as relaying the pipes.

“The vandalism stopped the power to the site, which meant the six water pumps at the reserve could not be used to extract water,” he said.

“To restore the power, KAPIII funded a transformer and T-switch, which arrived by ship in late July.

“Now four of the six pumps are in working order and the Bouta site can supplement the water we get from the reserve at Bonriki.”

The water reserves at Bonriki and Buota are the only water reserves providing groundwater to South Tarawa, KAPIII Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara said.

“The Buota Water Reserve has the capacity to provide about 300 cubic metres of water per day, the equivalent to 1500 200l ‘te turam’,” Mr Kaitara said.

South Tarawa’s other water reserve at Bonriki provides 1600 cubic metres per day.

“As Buota is the second main source of ground water for the people of South Tarawa we want to work well with the people of Buota to ensure its’ ongoing success.

“Bonriki has been over-pumped and now we can reduce the extraction rate to prevent damage to the water lenses and equipment.

“If we lose the water reserves at Bonriki and Buota, we lose the only reasonably safe drinking water for the people of Betio and South Tarawa.

“So protection of these water reserves is critical for the liveability of Betio and South Tarawa and the health of all that live here.

“This includes minimising pollution, animals, agriculture and sand mining in the area to ensure the water remains healthy enough for human consumption.”

Australian High Commission First Secretary Lydia Bezeruk said Australia was proud to be co-financing KAPIII and supporting the repair of the Buota Water Reserve.

“It’s important that we understand that water is a precious commodity, in South Tarawa in particular,” Ms Bezeruk said.

“Most of the water reserves have been polluted and are beyond repair, which is why maintaining the effective functioning of reserves such as Buota and Bonriki is critical.”

Facts about KAPIII

The Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII) is a five-year project under the Office of the President and funded via the World Bank GEF LDCF Trust Fund with co financing from the governments of Australia and Japan, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery partnership, as well as in-kind from the Government of Kiribati.

The objective of KAPIII is to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure.

Freshwater supply projects from 2012 to 2016 include working closely with the MPWU and PUB to manage assets and provide training to staff, the installation of four new rainwater harvesting works and two infiltration gallery works in North and South Tarawa, the detection and repair of leaks in the groundwater pipe system from Buota to Betio and the rehabilitation of the Buota Water Reserve.

Kiribati Adaptation Program - Phase III Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara

Why Tarawa needs water reserves

Q&A With Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara

What is a water reserve?

A water reserve is an area of land that is reserved for the extraction of water. That is, no other activities are allowed on this land except pumping of water.

What is the purpose of a water reserve?

The purpose of declaring a water reserve is to minimise pollution of the water in this area. Water reserves are common throughout the world – in Australia the catchment areas for dams are normally some sort of reserve area.

Why is it important to have water reserves in Kiribati?

In Kiribati it is extremely important because we only have very limited water treatment and to provide additional treatment would be extremely expensive in terms of both initial outlay and operating expenses.

We want people to be healthy and have healthy drinking water. That’s why it is important to stop people toileting on the land, and pigs and other livestock using the land because that can introduce potentially very harmful bacteria. Agricultural activities, such as growing of vegetables, can also introduce harmful chemicals such as nitrates.

These aren’t the only issues. The mining of sand and gravel from the area can introduce pollutants in the process, and leaves the lens much more vulnerable because it removes a layer of protection of the water. Industrial and other activities, such as fixing of cars and letting cars die on the reserves, can also introduce very harmful chemicals and petrochemicals.

Why is ground water on South Tarawa polluted?

Given that the population density of South Tarawa is so high, and polluting activities take place on almost all the land of South Tarawa, the water lens underlying South Tarawa is extremely polluted and is not suitable for human consumption, probably even after boiling. There used to be water reserves at Betio and Teaoreareke as well as Buota and Bonriki, but the first two had to be abandoned due to population growth. The water reserves are 50-metres or more inland from the edge of the land so you would need considerable overtopping before they are affected and there are people living on the edge who will be affected long before climate change affects the water reserves.

Is there an unlimited supply of water in the water reserve?

No. The other important factor with the water lenses are that they have a limited holding capacity and if you overpump them it causes the mixing of the fresh and salt water. This will take a generation to repair if it is well mixed. It is critical that the water reserves are not extracted beyond the sustainable yield.

Facts about KAPIII

The Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII) is a five-year project under the Office of the President and funded via the World Bank GEF LDCF Trust Fund with co financing from the governments of Australia and Japan, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery partnership, as well as in-kind from the Government of Kiribati.

The objective of KAPIII is to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure.

Freshwater supply projects from 2012 to 2016 include working closely with the MPWU and PUB to manage assets and provide training to staff, the installation of four new rainwater harvesting works and two infiltration gallery works in North and South Tarawa, the detection and repair of leaks in the groundwater pipe system from Buota to Betio and the rehabilitation of the Buota Water Reserve.

Students perform at the Abaunamou Pri-School Climate Change Skit Competition. Photo: KAPIII

Agents of change perform

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 01 November, 2012

“TOXIC waste, toxic waste is lying everywhere in the lagoon,” chanted Class 5B to hundreds of people at the Abaunamou Pri-School Climate Change Skit Competition on Friday.

“Sinking and floating like a balloon,” they continued.

“Fish chase them for food.

“Without knowing that they are no good.

“Don’t throw toxic waste into the lagoon.

“So then the fish won’t die and never go up to the moon.”

The poem, created by Class 5B and their teacher, Mimitaake Aron, signaled the finale of the winning performance of the first-ever skit competition held by the school at St Ioteba Maneaba in Teaoraereke.

The competition featured more than 600 children, aged 6 to 12, who were part of 20 class skits about climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It was supported by the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) and Foundation of the South Pacific Kiribati (FSPK) who judged the competition alongside the Environment Conservation Division (ECD).

The children performed a variety of skits, with songs, dances, plays and poems conveying their English skills as well as important community messages such as why not to pollute, the dangers of coastal erosion and the benefits of recycling. For example, Class 5B’s winning message was: “From now on we will stop throwing toxic waste into the lagoon and we will try our best to make our lagoon the most beautiful lagoon in the world.”

Head Teacher Rabwa Ieremia said the competition not only benefited the children’s English and climate change knowledge, but also their parents who attended the performance as well as the wider community.

“Before the skit, some parents thought climate change was a problem overseas,” Ms Ieremia said.

“After the skit, the community has been asking questions about climate change and come to the realization that it’s a local problem that our community must address.

“They now know that we all contribute to these problems, such as throwing the rubbish into the sea, and they’re passing the message onto the local community and encouraging a change in behaviour.”

“This competition would not have been possible without the support of our parents, community, teachers, judges, Nei Tabera Ni Kai, KAPIII, FSPK and the ECD and we thank you all.”

Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara said KAPIII was proud to support the efforts made by the school to take ownership of issues relating to climate change and their local community.

“The teachers, students and community have done a fantastic job in promoting positive key messages about climate change and relating them to their community,” Mr Kaitara said.

“Change starts at home and the school has taken ownership of changes that need to be made in the community, explained why they are important and provided solutions for change to their parents and friends.

“Children are just effective and sustainable ‘Agents of Change’ and it is hoped they will bring good changes in terms of understanding climate change and climate change adaptation throughout Kiribati.“

“I congratulate all students and teachers who participated in 20 wonderful and educational skits.”

About KAP:

The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII), Office of Te Beretitenti, aims to increase freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure for the people and future of Kiribati.

KAPIII will achieve this objective under four key components to be achieved from 2012 to 2016:

  1. Improve water resource use and management;
  2. Increase coastal resilience;
  3. Strengthen the capacity to manage the effects of climate change and natural hazards; and
  4. Project management, monitoring and evaluation.

Read more about the Kiribati Adaptation Program


The construction team celebrate the success of the rainwater harvesting works completed on Banaba Island.

Water success for Banaba Island

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.”

About KAP:

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:

  1. Improve water resource use and management;
  2. Increase coastal resilience;
  3. Strengthen the capacity to manage the effects of climate change and natural hazards; and
  4. 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.


Q&A with Japan Ambassador

Q&A with Ambassador of Japan to Fiji and Kiribati about climate change

Ambassador of Japan to Fiji and Kiribati during his recent visit to Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo: Jolee Wakefield/KAPIII

Ambassador of Japan to Fiji and Kiribati during his recent visit to Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo: Jolee Wakefield/KAPIII

Recently appointed Ambassador of Japan for Fiji and Kiribati His Excellency Eiichi Oshima visited Kiribati for the first time this week. During his busy schedule, His Excellency met the President, toured Tarawa and was the guest of honor at a ceremony for a new fire truck donated by Japan at police headquarters. He also kindly took the time to conduct a Q&A, below.

What is the purpose of your visit to Kiribati?

My major purpose is to present my credentials to the President of Kiribati Anote Tong.

What is your impression of Kiribati?

My impression of Kiribati is very nice. I visited many places and met many people and I found Kiribati is a very nice country.

What is the importance of the relationship between Japan and Kiribati?

I emphasise the so called ko suna – it means ‘strong human bond’. As you know, we (Japan) experienced a severe earthquake and tsunami last year. At that time, the government and people of Kiribati sent us a very warm and sincere message of sympathies and gave us a very generous donation. So I think it’s a result of our long relationship and friendship that we should continue with this good relationship.

What are your thoughts on the current problems Kiribati is facing at the moment in terms of climate change?

The President Tong stressed climate change and sea level rise as a serious problem for Kiribati. Japan would like to cooperate with Kiribati to adapt to this situation.

This May we held a summit meeting called PALM 6 in Japan. At that time we discussed many subjects, including environmental topics such as clean water and garbage programs and so on. I know Pacific Island countries face a lot of these problems, especially water, and we want to help where we can.

Japan has already donated $1.8million to The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAP III) project. What do you think of KAP and the current efforts being made to tackle climate change and provide safe drinking water for people in Kiribati?

The project is developing well, but it’s going to take a long time. For example, the mangroves are very effective for erosion but they are still small. Overall, it’s a very good project.