Tag Archives: South Tarawa

Kiribati to Celebrate World Water Day

Kiribati people depend on potable well water, this supply has been affected by climate change

Kiribati people depend on potable well water, this supply has been affected by climate change

Kiribati will be celebrating World Water Day on 24 March 2014 at the Bairiki Square in Kiribati’s capital, Tarawa, focusing on this year’s Kiribati theme ‘Water and Climate Change’.

People in Kiribati depend on potable ground water in wells and from rainwater, but this supply of water has been directly affected by climate change.

The ground water supply in South Tarawa is dependent on the size of the land area and as this diminishes as a result of rising sea levels and coastal erosion, so does the size of the water lens. This situation applies to all of the other islands of Kiribati.

Public Utilities Board (PUB), CEO, Kevin Rouatu said, Kiribati is like a floating ship with limited fresh water from its water lens, and despite the heavy rainfall that Kiribati has been blessed with in the past months, our water lens can only hold just a small percentage of the total rainfall.

“South Tarawa depends largely on the reservoirs in Buota and Bonriki so it is very vital for people to save the water they get from the main water system and not waste it”. Said Kevin Rouatu.

“KAPIII’s objective is to increase the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal protection as a priority by the government of Kiribati”. Said Kautuna Kaitara, Program Manager for KAPIII.

“Our aim is to improve the water reticulation system on South Tarawa through leakage detection and repairs, to increase rainwater harvesting and to build abstraction galleries”, he said.

With regards to sustaining the Buota and Bonriki water reserves, Mr Kaitara said, KAPIII will be assisting in supporting the Government of Kiribati Water Committee by ensuring governance and sustainability of the systems in Bonriki and Buota villages.

“If water in this area is contaminated there will be no drinkable water to the 40 thousand plus population on South Tarawa and it will be catastrophic and costly for the people of South Tarawa compared to the  cost from a tsunami disaster”. Mr Kaitara said.

The Kiribati government through the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, the Ministry of Health the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) Public Utilities Board, SMEC and GCCA have joined efforts to make the most of this year’s World Water Day celebrations.

Also read: Reducing leakage in Tarawa, World Water Day 2013, Why Tarawa needs water reserves
Follow the discussion and view pictures of Monday’s event on our Facebook page 

Kiribati solar PV training on the way

Suset in Kiribati. Photo by Michael obyrneSunlabob Renewable Energy, the Laos-based company specializing in renewable energy and clean water solutions throughout developing areas of the world, today (29 August 2013) announced it has been awarded a contract to provide hands-on solar PV training for local engineers and technicians in Kiribati, one of the least-developed island states in the Pacific region. The trainings – funded by the European Development Fund and managed by the Government of the Republic of Kiribati – will include Sunlabob experts providing instruction for on- and off-grid solar PV installation, operation and maintenance techniques, Eco Business reports.

The project comes on the heels of Sunlabob winning a contract in Kiribati in early 2013 to supply solar PV and related equipment for a variety of decentralized solar energy installations, including more than two-thousand solar home systems, hundreds of small businesses, community centers and schools, as well as village mini-grids.

“Providing local training is directly in line with Sunlabob’s tradition: to ensure self-sustaining, long-lasting renewable energy access by equipping local individual with the right skills,” said Andy Schroeter, co-founder and CEO, Sunlabob. “We’re pleased to be able to not only supply the solar PV materials to Kiribati’s electrification initiative, but to also provide the necessary human knowledge and training.”

The training, to be led by Sunlabob head engineer Antony Watkins, will consist of two parts. The first training will familiarize local engineers with grid-connected solar PV systems, resulting in the installation and commissioning of a 10 kWp grid-connected system at the Kiribati Solar Energy Company (KSEC) headquarters.

The second training will focus on off-grid solar-diesel hybrid systems, which will facilitate the implementation of hybrid solar systems at schools, small business and community centers throughout the islands. Both phases of training will comprise workshops that include theoretical knowledge-building and also hands-on practical technical instruction.

Read the full story on Eco-Business.com
Follow the discussion on our Facebook page

Related story: New solar Project for South Tarawa
Find out more about the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit

‘Overcrowding and climate change’

Reuters photojournalist David Gray visited South Tarawa recently, here’s what he had to say …

The ocean laps against a protective seawall outside the maternity ward at Kiribati’s Nawerewere Hospital, marshalling itself for another assault with the next king tide.

Inside, a basic clinic is crowded with young mothers and newborn babies, the latest additions to a population boom that has risen as relentlessly as the sea in a deeply Christian outpost where family planning is still viewed with skepticism.

It is a boom that threatens to overwhelm the tiny atoll of South Tarawa as quickly as the rising seas. Some 50,000 people, about half of Kiribati’s total population, are already crammed onto a sand and coral strip measuring 16 sq km (6 sq miles).

“Climate change is a definite long-term threat to Kiribati, there’s no doubt whatsoever about that,” says Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia who has been visiting South Tarawa since 2005.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s the biggest problem right now … Any first-time visitor to Tarawa is not struck by the impacts of sea level rise, they’re struck by how crowded it is.”

Read the full article and view the pictures at news.yahoo.com
Read the South Tarawa Island Report for more detailed information on South Tarawa
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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.