The World Bank has approved a US$20 million project for investment in Kiribati’s climate resilience measures, targeting 14,000 people.
The Kiribati Outer Islands Resilience and Adaptation Project will provide communities with improved access to fresh water, drainage
improvements, coastal protection, upgrades to public buildings and critical facilities, as well as maintenance equipment and climate-resilient solutions for flooding – a major concern given the nation’s low-lying geography.
The island nation and its many atolls have constantly been inundated by rising sea levels. The king tides often cover most of the island affecting access to water and endangering buildings and infrastructure.
World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific Lasse Melgaard, said there were arguably few places in greater need of support and protection for the impacts of climate change than the communities living in Kiribati’s outer islands.
“Yet we are acutely aware that the impacts of climate change can vary significantly across communities and islands,” he said.
“This new project will see communities working closely with the national government and the World Bank to ensure those communities get the support they are most urgently seeking.”
Kiribati Vice President and Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Teuea Toatu, said the needs of the outer island communities are significant.
“We are pleased to be working with all 20 Island Councils – supported by the World Bank – to deliver such critical infrastructure and basic services that will support communities’ resilience,” he stated.
Kiribati is one of the smallest and most remote countries in the world. With a population of nearly 120,000, half the country’s citizens live on hard-to-reach outer islands, with the other half on the main island of South Tarawa; one of the most densely populated areas in the Pacific.
Outer island infrastructure in Kiribati – particularly infrastructure adapted to rising sea levels, increased water salination and more unpredictable weather patterns – is scarce, with limited resources for government services in outer islands.
The new project builds on several decades of successful World Bank support to Kiribati for climate adaptation and disaster resilience, including through the Kiribati Adaptation Program, which supported coastal protection works, access to fresh water supply, and a grant scheme for community infrastructure.
The Adaption Program’s third phase provides a total of 12,800 people – more than 10 per cent of the population – with access to improved water sources. This new project aims to continue addressing unmet climate resilience needs in Kiribati’s outer island communities.
Importantly, the project will adopt universal access considerations to ensure the voices and needs of diverse and vulnerable groups – including people of all ages, abilities and genders – are addressed in the planning and selection of project activities.