1 Apr 2021

Banaba grateful for second desalination unit from Kiribati capital

7:13 pm on 1 April 2021

The western Kiribati island of Banaba is delighted that a second desalination unit is about to be brought into operation.

The island, which is home to about 300 people, is just emerging from months of drought, and two weeks ago sought help, after its desalination units had broken down.

The Kiribati Government responded by sending a desalination unit, bottled water and water containers.

Today a government chartered vessel, MV Tekinati, returned to the island to deliver a second desalination unit, for which the islanders have expressed their appreciation.

Part of the first new desalination unit now in operation in Banaba

Part of the first new desalination unit now in operation in Banaba Photo: courtesy of Tekiana Leupena and Roubena Banaba

Banaba, which was largely decimated by phosphate mining between the world wars, has no natural source of water, and is usually reliant on rainwater saved off roofs from often dilapidated buildings, or on desalinated water.

But in the drought there was little water or what they did have was very poor quality.

There has been some recent rain on the island.

An elder on Banaba, Roubena Ritata, has called for the countries that benefitted from the phosphate mining, namely Australia and New Zealand, to step up and help refurbish the island's infrastructure.

Neither country has yet responded.