Category Archives: Adaptation

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.

President Anote Tong with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

Secretary-General visits Kiribati

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma outlines new areas of Commonwealth assistance and support to Kiribati after his recent visit…

Kiribati is a highly valued member of the Commonwealth. The purpose of my first official visit to Kiribati was to have direct exchanges with the leadership as to the country’s priorities, the challenges it faces, and to identify the partnership which the Commonwealth can offer.

I was honoured to be received so warmly during my visit, and I depart with great appreciation and a deeper understanding of Kiribati’s aspirations and the challenges posed by geography, human and natural resource constraints, and climate change.

My discussions covered many areas of the Commonwealth’s work as a trusted and collaborative partner in advancing our core values of democracy, development and respect for diversity.

During this visit, I had the honour of calling on the President, HE Anote Tong, and Vice-President and Minister of Internal and Social Affairs Hon Teima Onorio. I also met the Minister of Communication, Transport and Tourism Development Hon Taberannang Timeon; Minister of Public Works and Utilities Hon Kirabuke Teiaua; Minister of Commerce, Industries and Co-operatives Hon Pinto Katia; and Minister of Environment and Agricultural Development Hon Tiarite Kwong.

I also had meetings with former President Hon Teburoro Tito, and the Speaker of the House of Assembly Hon Taomati Iuta.

Read what the Secretary-General had to say on climate change and Kiribati at thecommonwealth.org

 

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

 

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

 

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

Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP)

The Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP) aims to reduce Kiribati’s vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea level rise by raising awareness of climate change, assessing and protecting available water resources and managing inundation.

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

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

KAP is a project of the Office of the President, Government of Kiribati and consists of three phases, running from 2003 to 2016:

Phase I: Preparation (2003-2005)
Phase II : Pilot implementation (2006-2011)
Phase III: Expansion (2012-2016)

Initiatives include improving water supply management; coastal management protection measures such as mangrove re-plantation and protection of public infrastructure; strengthening laws to reduce coastal erosion; and population settlement planning to reduce personal risks.

KAP is 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.

Latest news for KAPIII

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.