Population: 117,606

Poverty rate: 22%

Kiribati is a remote and isolated group of 32 low-lying coral atolls on the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is extremely vulnerable to climate change, with incremental sea rise, saltwater intrusion, and drought displacing families. Some communities are already searching for new homes, either domestically or overseas, with 23 per cent of migrants citing climate change as a reason for their relocation.

The poor soil conditions and lack of access to fresh water make agriculture extremely difficult in Kiribati. Many communities rely on imported, processed foods, which are not only expensive but also contribute to undernutrition, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases.

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The Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific Kiribati

Case study

Increasing climate resilience in Kiribati

Kaai lives on Marakei Island and has been struggling to deal with the fish shortage – a staple food for many families in Kiribati. She turned to vegetables to supplement family meals, but they are extremely difficult to grow due to the poor soil conditions and lack of fresh water for irrigation.

Kaai also faced an additional struggle – because of her remote location and her gender, she was never able to share her ideas on how to address these issues in community forums.

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

With support from our local partner, the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific Kiribati (FSPK), Kaai and her community dug freshwater wells and established kitchen gardens. The project specifically targeted women and young people – some of the most vulnerable in the community.

Kaai learned gardening techniques and attended cooking demonstrations, where she learned how to prepare nutritious meals using her own produce. The new well also meant she no longer had to waste time fetching water for irrigation, drinking, and cooking.

“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 earning extra income by selling their surplus vegetables at market.

With access to fresh water and more ways to produce food, Kaai’s remote island community is more resilient to climate shocks.

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