New Delhi :Communities in many of Kiribati’s most remote areas will receive much-needed support for climate resilience as part of a new US$20 million climate change adaptation project.
The Kiribati Outer Islands Resilience and Adaptation Project, approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today, will work with all 20 of Kiribati’s Island Councils, together with the three urban councils across Tarawa – to invest in community-level climate resilience measures that will directly support an estimated 14,000 people (12% of the country’s population).
Work through the 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 Kiribati’s low-lying geography.
“There are 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,” said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific.
“Yet we are acutely aware that the impacts of climate change can vary significantly across communities and islands. 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 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 needs of our outer island communities are significant,” said the Hon. Vice President and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Teuea Toatu. “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.”
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. For example, the Adaption Program’s third phase provided a total of 12,800 people, more than 10 percent 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.