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nginako villagers standing the sea where their village used to be had to relocate their village because of rising seas and erosion.  Photo:Justin McManus, The Age

Kiribati may be the first country to disappear

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 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

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati may be the first country to disappear under the rising sea levels of climate change.

Its people fear their homeland may become the world’s next Atlantis.

As our boat nears the shore, the dark shadows beneath the sea sharpen into focus. Chiselled coral stones, organized neatly into rows, glisten from the reef of this shallow cove.

We are drifting over the foundation of the surrendered neighbourhoods of Tebunginako. The village was once home to more than 200 households, but today it lies beneath several metres of turquoise water.

“We used to swim out there to see the ships when we were boys. They’d tie them up to the coconut trees just over here,” explains the Mayor, pointing enthusiastically as we coast over the remains of his town. Locals say Tebunginako was once the island’s main harbor – before the rising sea swallowed its coast.

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Evire Banririe, PUB Water Reticulation Secnior Technician, checks the Water Air Release Valve

Water leak detection works underway

Evire Banririe, PUB Water Reticulation Secnior Technician, checks the Water Air Release Valve

Evire Banririe, PUB Water Reticulation Secnior Technician, checks the Water Air Release Valve

Leak detection works is being carried out on South Tarawa’s main water reticulation system using a sound detection device. The work is being carried out by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and Posch and Partners Consulting Engineers (P&P) through the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) The leak detection works is being carried out by Mr Robert Skerjanz from P&P who is a leak detection expert with 28 years’ experience and PUB staff.

Posch & Partners Consulting Engineers (P&P) are based in Austria, Europe. The company is specialized on water, energy and environmental projects and provides consulting services, designs and construction supervision. The main focus is on water supply, wastewater and hydropower projects.

P&P will lead the implementation of leak detection and pipe network repair/minor upgrade activities on the PUB water supply network in Betio and South Tarawa; implement improved public water distribution systems in selected pilot South Tarawa communities and to build the PUB’s capacity in leak detection, repair, and planning/managing programs of leak investigation and leak reduction.

Mr Robert Skerjanz, the Leak Detection Expert with 28 years experience said, “Performing active leak detection on the transmission main, from the water treatment plant to the reservoir in Betio is essential in order to repair leaks before the road is newly surfaced by the KRRP.”

Although it is still premature to provide results, Mr Skerjanz said that after completing the works on the transmission main, activities will be extended to the reticulation system where he expects a lot more leakages.

Mr Skerjanz said that three water meters will be installed in chambers along the 30km transmission line, which will allow PUB in the future to monitor the water consumption section by section. An abnormal consumption with one section will indicate to PUB a leak in the section.

Mr Kautuna Kaitara, Program Manager for KAPIII said that reducing leakage is a key priority for the Government of Kiribati which will address the supply/needs of approximately 50% of national population residing in South Tarawa.

In 2000 a World Bank-funded study estimated that in the absence of adaptation the combined effect of sea level rise, changes in rainfall and higher temperatures could result in a decline of 19-38% in the thickness of the main groundwater lens in Tarawa and inundation of up to 54% of land in some villages in South Tarawa and up to 80% in some villages in North Tarawa by 2050.

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Mid Term Review Team during the wrap up meeting

KAPIII Mid Term Review

 

Mid Term Review Team during wrap up meeting

Mid Term Review Team during wrap up meeting

The Government of Kiribati, The World Bank Team together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT – Australia) conducted a Mid-Term Review on the Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase – III (KAPIII) from 30 Oct to 6 Nov 2014.

Consultations was carried out with major key stakeholders like the Office of Te Beretitenti, Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, Ministry of Environment Lands and Agricultural Development , Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Public Utilities Board and others.

KAPIII was implemented since March 2012 and it has been two and half years since its official commencement date.

The mission highlighted some of the achievements which included the substantial implementation of the leak measurement and detection program on the PUB transmission main, confirming locations for the abstraction galleries that witnessed land owners sign the voluntary land use agreement in North Tarawa, completed designs for rainwater harvesting systems based on community consultations, engagement of a Water Governance advisor assisting the GoK Task Force to address issues on both Bonriki and Buota Water Reserve to name a few.

One of the many positive outcomes of the mission was that the Government of Kiribati has confirmed its determination to complete the project on time (i.e. through 31 August 2016) and within budget. It also endorsed strengthening the management to undertake the large remaining tasks, including completing the seawalls, leak repairs, rain water harvesting and abstraction galleries using local contractors. Overall the outcome of the KAPIII mid-term review had been productive.

The Island of Abaiang. Much of the archipelago is not more than a few meters above sea level. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Small island nations must unite or drown in rising seas

 

The Island of Abaiang. Much of the archipelago is not more than a few meters above sea level. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

The Island of Abaiang in Kiribati. Much of the archipelago is not more than a few meters above sea level. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

The president of the Seychelles has urged the planet’s small island nations to unite for an unprecedented campaign against climate change or else drown.

The rallying call came at the start of a two-day summit of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries, to prepare for global climate talks to take place in Lima, Peru in December.

“Too often the world has chosen to ignore us; too often we are treated as bystanders,” said Seychelles president James Michel, whose Indian Ocean island nation is hosting the meeting.

“Let us be heard on every beach and every roadside – let us be heard in Beijing, in Delhi, in Johannesburg, in London, in Moscow, in New York, in Paris, in Rio.

“Let us be heard in every village, in every town, in every city of the world; let us be heard on the airwaves.

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MPWU presents during the Consultation Workshop to Buota and Bonriki villagers

Governance Roadmap on Water Reserves first workshop, complete

MPWU presents during the Consultation Workshop to Buota and Bonriki villagers

MPWU presents during the Consultation Workshop to Buota and Bonriki villagers

The urgent need to protect and manage effectively the Water Reserves at Buota and Bonriki is recognized by the Kiribati Government in the National Water Resources Implementation Plan, the Tarawa Water and Sanitation Road Map 2011-2030 and the Kiribati Development Plan 2012 – 2015.

The critical state of the water reserves is likely to get more serious in the future as a result of the impacts of climate change on future rainfall / drought patterns, together with the population growth.

Because the preservation of the water reserves in peri-urban Buota and Bonriki is critical to the long term health and economic growth of South Tarawa, the Cabinet approved the establishment of an inter-Ministerial Water Reserves Task Force, chaired by MELAD.

The purpose of the Task Force is to:

1. Move all unauthorized dwellings located within the boundary of the water reserves and end harmful practices (such as sand mining) on the Buota and Bonriki Reserves; and

2. Develop and implement a long term sustainable management plan for the two reserves.

The Task Force has now developed the first draft of its approach to these two tasks which are described as a “Governance Roadmap”, and presented this approach to all stakeholders during its first workshop on 28-29 October 2014 to consider the draft proposals.

There will be a second workshop in about four months to consider the final draft proposals and a third workshop four months or so after that – in the middle of 2015 – to consider the final proposals. Over the next 8 months consultations will take place, involving all stakeholders, coming together at the workshops to seek agreement and build consensus about the way forward – for the protection and conservation of the two water reserves that are so important to the lives of so many of the people of South Tarawa and of Kiribati.

The process will take place within the framework of government policy, the laws of Kiribati and the World Bank’s Operational Policy on involuntary resettlement.

Implementation of an Immediate Actions Plan to address the first purpose of the Task Force and a Sustainable Management Plan to address the second, will only start after there is full and open consultation with all stakeholders and agreement about what is to be done.

This agreement will be made into a formal written document with representatives of all key stakeholders participating. It is hoped this can be achieved by the middle of next year and both plans can then be implemented.

The first step is to start a process of community engagement. This will mean that, after this workshop: a) consultations start and continue on a regular basis with all communities involved; b) a communication, education and awareness plan is started; and c) a census and survey of the unauthorised residents on the two water reserves and a survey of Buota and Bonriki village residents is carried out. The surveys are necessary to draw up the first draft of a Resettlement Plan for the water reserves, and a Process Framework for the two village communities, for presentation at the next workshop.

The main stakeholders are the communities of Buota and Bonriki villages, the residents of South Tarawa, the unauthorized residents on the two water reserves, the Urban and Island Councils and their planning Boards, the administrative arms of government in a number of Ministries and agencies – MELAD, MPWU, MoHMS and PUB, the executive arm of government – Cabinet – and the Kiribati Adaptation Program III and Office of the Beretitenti under whose management and direction the process falls.

The process of consultation to reach agreement between all these many parties may be difficult and involve hard decisions but the achievement of the end result – clean and safe water – is very important to the people of South Tarawa and of Kiribati. All stakeholders will need to participate openly and constructively to reach an outcome that is fair to all and recognizes and meets the needs of all, as far as this is possible in meeting the overall goal – clean and safe water for South Tarawa.

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Land owner from Tabonibara, North Tarawa, signs the voluntary land use agreement

Location confirmed for infiltration galleries in North Tarawa

 

Land owner from Tabonibara, North Tarawa, signs the voluntary land use agreement

Land owner from Tabonibara, North Tarawa, signs the voluntary land use agreement

Landowners in Nooto and Tabonibara villages of Rural Tarawa have willingly signed off an agreement for the voluntary use of their lands for water infiltration galleries, thanks to an extensive and exhaustive KAPIII community consultation undertaking.

The signing was witnessed by the Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati HE. Mr. George Fraser, Kiribati’s Finance Minister Hon.Tom Murduch and the Minister for Commerce Hon. Pinto Katia.

A total of 7 landowners for Tabonibara and 11 for Nooto signed the agreement to declare their land for infiltration galleries which will be a reserve area for water, where no housing, graves or bwabwai pits will be found.

To safeguard the endangered fresh water from the effects of climate change and as part of an adaptation measure KAPIII will be funding the two infiltration galleries, which will provide the people of Nooto and Tabonibara villages with fresh clean water to drink from in relation to climate change and salt water intrusion.

Acknowledging the generosity made by the landowners, The Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati in his speech said. “Your permission to use this land for the galleries will be a key legacy from you to future generations, and one that will help improve your own livelihoods, those of your family, friends and community.”

“Australia, as a development partner, recognizes the importance of assisting your government to improve sustainable access to freshwater, and so we are pleased to support the third phase of the Kiribati Adaptation Project which aims to improve resilience to the impacts of climate change on fresh water supply.” He added.

“The signing that we have seen today signifies a major landmark in the progressive development of the project. It gives us a strong feeling that the project will surely be accomplished in the not distant future.” North Tarawa Mayor, Harry Tekaiti.

The Minister of Finance, Tom Murdoch on behalf of the Government of Kiribati thanked the land owners and called on the people of Tabonibara to safeguard the infiltration galleries not just for today but for their future generations.

An Infiltration gallery at the Taborio School in North Tarawa was erected during KAPII and its success has trickled the allocation of AUD$372,000 out of the $10.8 million project for the two infiltration galleries in Nooto and in Tabonibara, under KAPIII.

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Participants of the SPC EU-GCCA: PSIS workshop try out the new tippy tap display. Photo: KAPIII

Hand washing with soap will save lives

Participants of the SPC EU-GCCA: PSIS workshop try out the new tippy tap display. Photo: KAPIII

Participants of the SPC EU-GCCA: PSIS workshop try out the new tippy tap display. Photo: KAPIII

Hand washing with soap is the most effective & inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal & acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, handwashing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.

In Kiribati the Infant Mortality Rate is 47/1000 live births, which is the highest in the Pacific region. Hand washing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under five by almost 50 percent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.

On Wednesday 15 October 2014, Kiribati will be joining hands with over 200 million people in over 100 countries around the world to celebrate Global Hand Washing Day with the theme ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’. The event will be held in Bairiki Square in South Tarawa from 11am to 3pm in the presence of Secretaries, Diplomats, Heads o UN agencies, members of community and school students.

Global Hand Washing Day celebrations has been organized in a joint effort  by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU), Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development, Ministry of Education, Office of Te Beretitenti, Red Cross, Water and Sanitation Projects, KIRIWATSAN I, Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII),  SPC- EU GCCA: PSIS and the South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Sector Project (STSISP).

The public is encouraged to join this celebration so that awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing with soap can be practiced by all.

The event will include:
–          Demonstration of handwashing with soap
–          School event on Global Hand Washing theme
–          Drama show from Red Cross
–          Games for children
–          Floor show by KCCN (Kiribati Children Campaigners Network).

About the projects

KAPIII

The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) is a five-year climate change adaptation project under the Office of the President. 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 include providing support to the MPWU and PUB; the installation of rainwater harvesting works and infiltration gallery works in North and South Tarawa; and the detection and repair of leaks in the PUB’s pipe system from Buota to Betio.

KAPIII is 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.

KIRIWATSAN I

The Water and Sanitation project in the Outer Islands of the Republic of Kiribati Phase I (KIRIWATSAN I) is funded by EU, implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities with technical assistance from UNICEF.

It involves 70 communities in the 16 Gilbert Islands. The project aims to empower people by engaging them to achieve better access to safe drinking water, adequate and socially acceptable sanitation facilities, combined with an effective education/awareness raising campaign to improve their understanding of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues and to encourage behavioural changes, especially starting with children, as agents of change.

STSISP

The South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Program (STSISP) aims to improve the health of communities on South Tarawa by rehabilitating and upgrading existing sanitation infrastructure. STSISP will improve access to sanitation services from 64 per cent of South Tarawa’s population in 2010 to 80 per cent by 2018. 

Rehabilitation of current infrastructure will limit contamination of groundwater reserves, which are currently polluted by pit latrines and poorly managed septic tanks.

The Asian Development Bank is the lead agency on this program.

SPC- EU GCCA: PSIS

The Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) project is a three-year project funded by the European Union and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The overall objective of the GCCA: PSIS project is to support the governments of nine smaller Pacific Island States, namely Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu, in their efforts to tackle the adverse effects of climate change. The purpose of the project is to promote long-term strategies and approaches to adaptation planning and pave the way for more effective and coordinated aid delivery to address climate change at the national and regional level.

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

Kiribati is faced with sea level rise impacts now

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 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

The leader of the small Pacific island nation of Kiribati, which is threatened by rising oceans, appealed for greater international efforts to come up with solutions as people in some low-lying areas of the world are forced to relocate. The Desert Sun, reports.

Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, spoke after a three-day retreat at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, which was led by Prince Albert II of Monaco and focused on the problems of sea level rise and the growing acidity of the world’s oceans.

Tong pointed out that based on scientific predictions of sea level rise, the coral atolls that make up his homeland will be underwater within a century.

“We have nowhere else to go,” Tong said in an interview after the retreat. “We already have communities which have had to relocate because what was their home was no longer there. And so we are feeling impacts now already.”

Tong’s government recently bought land in Fiji, and has been considering a variety of potential ways for the country of about 100,000 people to adapt. Some people have already moved to New Zealand, expecting growing problems with flooding and water supplies in the coming years.

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

Pacific countries already feeling the effects of climate change

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

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

If reactions from the recent UN Climate Change summit are anything to go by, the world is progressing to having concrete climate change legislation by the next climate summit in Paris in 2015, says Kiribati President Anote Tong. Fiji Times, reports.

But he acknowledges this is not enough because Pacific countries are already feeling the effects of climate change and must make themselves as resilient as possible.

He said he saw a radical change in position at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York last week.

“The recent meeting was very satisfying because there has been a radical change in the positions of many countries, particularly the US, and they are coming on very strong and with the US taking that position, it is very possible that the rest will follow, perhaps even China,” President Tong said at a press conference in Suva on Wednesday. “But that is not enough.”

He said affected atoll island nations all supported the push for legislation on climate change but also needed to begin their own fight.

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Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon adressing the Climate Change Summit 2014, 23 September 2014. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Announcements positive for tackling climate change as UN summit comes to an end

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon adressing the Climate Change Summit 2014, 23 September 2014. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon adressing the Climate Change Summit 2014, 23 September 2014. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Bold new actions to immediately tackle climate change were announced today by Government, business, finance and civil society leaders attending a historic Climate Summit convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has long urged workable solutions based on “clear vision anchored in domestic and multinational actions.” UN News Centre reports.

“Today was a great day – a historic day. Never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change,” Mr. Ban said, summing up the day-long event,which drew a unique mix of international players who announced their vision and commitment for reaching a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015, as well made announcements on actions that will reduce emissions, enhance resistance to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action.

“The Summit delivered,” declared the UN chief, noting that leaders had reaffirmed determination to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius by cutting emissions. And many, from all regions and all levels of economic development, advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, decisively reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of this century.

On finance, the Secretary-General said public and private sources showed the way forward for mobilizing the needed resources. Leaders expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund. And a total of $2.3 billion was pledged towards the Fund’s initial capitalization today, and others committed contributions by November 2014.

“A new coalition of Governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their commitment to mobilize upwards of $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development,” he said, adding that private banks announced they would issue $20 billion in “Green Bonds” and that they would double the market to $50 billion by 2015, next year.

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