19 Dec 2019

World Bank approves $US15m towards Kiribati water project

4:38 pm on 19 December 2019

The World Bank has approved $US15 million to go towards a major water project in Kiribati.

Bonriki-Buota bridge between islets over lagoon, South Tarawa, Kiribati, Micronesia, Oceania, South Pacific Ocean.

South Tarawa. Photo: 123RF

The South Tarawa Water project aims to provide people on Kiribati's most populated island with better access to a safe, reliable and climate-resilient water supply.

The bulk of the funding for the $US58m project is being provided by the Asian Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund, which announced $US41.63m in support in September.

The Kiribati government will also be putting up $US1.49m.

Kiribati's capital, Tarawa, is overcrowded and has fragile water resources due to its small size, lack of capacity for storage and small land area.

This combination of overcrowding and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene is also closely linked to waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery.

The project aims to address these issues by expanding and modernising South Tarawa's water supply network to deliver piped water to homes.

It will also support the construction of seawater desalination systems that will meet water demands and increase drought resilience up to the year 2040.

The project, which is expected to be completed in 2027, will be managed and implemented through Kiribati's Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy.

Kiribati's infrastructure minister Ruateki Tekaiara said it would help to make people in South Tarawa healthier and more resilient to droughts and climate change while also adding to their economic and social development.