A changing climate in Kiribati

Posted on July 24, 2017

Kaai in her garden

Kaai lives on the island of Marakei, part of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. Unfortunately, climate change has created erratic weather events, eroded the coastline, and made it difficult for Kaai and her community to find fresh water.

After fierce storms, Kaai struggled to cope with a shortage of fish – a staple food for many in Kiribati. This meant she had to rely more heavily on vegetables, which were difficult to produce in poor soil. She also found that her ideas about how to address these problems weren’t valued.

“Quite often we have been left out in community development programs, especially as I am a woman,” she said. “Only men or elders from my village are the ones to meet with project officers.”

The Outer Island Food and Water Project has helped Kaai access clean water and grow good food in a changing climate. This one-year project targeted women and young people – the most vulnerable among the community.

Kaai learned gardening techniques, which increased production in poor soils, and attended cooking demonstrations, which showed her how to prepare meals using her own produce. A new water system also means Kaai doesn’t have to travel long distances on foot to retrieve water for drinking and washing.

“I am happy to say that the project has given me an opportunity to learn how to cook nutritious dishes,” said Kaai. “Having different kinds of vegetables to eat supplements the loss of fish in times of bad storms.”

Kaai’s community has also been selling surplus vegetables at market to earn extra income. By adopting new techniques and adjusting to changes in climate, Kaai’s remote island community is now more secure on their land and in their future.

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