Tag Archives: coastal erosion

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.

Read the full story on The Desert Sun

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Forum Trade Ministers Meeting comes to an End

The Pacific Islands Forum embraces a vision for a better future and prosperity for Pacific Islands’ communities through increased trade and investment. As the international trade and investment promotion agency of the Forum Secretariat, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest’s network of offices play an essential role in supporting this vision.

This story began on Wednesday 28 May 2014 when 16 members of this Forum gathered at the Kiribati House of Parliament in Ambo, Tarawa, and the Republic of Kiribati to reach a special agreement. It is special because it recognizes the relative state of development in the Pacific in terms of Technology, Capacity, Wealth, and Resources. I’d say it’s special indeed! And thank you to the Secretary General, Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade, all the Ministers who were present, the people who assisted these Ministers. Thank you all on behalf of us, the grass roots people, for recognizing Kiribati and accepting our Minister of Commerce’s invitation Mr Binto Katia from Makin to have and to hold the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting here at yet another beautiful island in the pacific.

If you would like to learn more about the Trade Ministers Meeting please visit the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website and I bet they have a Facebook page as well to keep you engaged.

Also visit our Facebook page Kiribati and Climate Change and like it, and also share it with others so they can see the pictures!

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.

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

Tebunginako Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case study 1: Tarawa

 

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

Tarawa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more case studies

 

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

Kiribati gets 37,000 new mangroves

Press Release, 2011

Over 37,000 mangrove seedlings have recently been planted on the islands of Aranuka, Butaritari, Maiana, Makin and in North and South Tarawa.

The seedlings were planted through an activity funded by KAPII (Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase II) under the supervision of the Government of Kiribati’s Environment and Conservation Division.

Turang Favae, Acting Biodiversity and Conservation Officer at the Environment and Conservation Division says, “First and foremost it contributes to the building of coastlines and protects our shores against coastal erosion.”

Mangroves, although considered a ‘soft’ option when compared to seawalls, can be one of the most effective forms of coastal protection that in addition provide a range of other benefits.

“We see mangroves as an important habitat for marine life that use the mangroves as their homes. In that sense mangrove ecosystems are important to the marine species that we depend on for our livelihoods,” says Mrs. Favae. “They also contribute to the natural carbon dioxide cycle, act as buffers to storm surges and sea sprays and help filter nutrient runoff from land as mangrove roots absorb these nutrients and reduce pollution impacts on the sea.”

Dr. Helene Jacot Des Combes, of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, sees mangroves as a coastal protection option that can go beyond government and into the hands of the people.

“It is a solution that is not as costly as others and it can be done by the community, there is no real maintenance required and it profits the community by providing extra food and fire wood,” says Dr. Jacot Des Combe.

Community involvement in the planting is indeed central to the planting programme implemented in Kiribati confirms Mrs. Favae. “The importance of engaging the community is to gain their full support in the management of the mangroves themselves. We encourage and practice mangrove planting with communities, youth groups and school students so they can see the importance of planting and gain a sense of ownership to look after and manage the mangroves.”

The Government of Kiribati has long recognised the importance of healthy coastal ecosystems and well managed coastal protection. Mangrove planting is seen to support these national aims that are outlined in both the 2008-2011 Kiribati Development Plan (KDP) and the 2006-2010 Kiribati National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP).

“To replant native plants contributes to the renewal of the ecosystem. When planting is successful it has impacts both on the protection of the coast and also for food security by providing more fish and crabs for the community,” says Dr. Jacot Des Combe.

In Kiribati mangroves are also culturally important as they are utilised as a source of building materials, dye and medicine. Yet one issue encountered has been barnacles that have caused the destruction of smaller seedlings, particularly in South Tarawa.

Mrs. Favae has long been concerned about this issue. “It appears there is not much we can do about the barnacles, as it has been suggested their presence is linked to sea water salinity levels.”

Regardless of the obstacles faced, the program has proved successful with the majority of seedlings planted now growing towards becoming healthy mature plants.

Perhaps most importantly public awareness of the importance of mangroves is growing in Kiribati. To lead by example, the President of Kiribati himself recently planted mangroves alongside local youths in South Tarawa.

Through her experience in the Outer Islands, Mrs. Favae knows that “community support is essential to the sustainability of mangroves.” The significance of this cannot be understated, as mangrove planting is a climate adaptation strategy that truly places the ability to act into the hands of the people of Kiribati.