Kiribati, an island republic in the central Pacific, is made up of 32 flat coral atolls and one island, scattered over a gigantic area of about three and a half million square kilometres - larger than the area of India. Many of these atolls along the equator are uninhabited, while others are densely populated, such as the main island chain Tarawa. Most of these islands are almost at sea level, which makes them very vulnerable. If the sea level continues to rise due to climate change, these island paradises risk disappearing altogether. For Kiribati and other island states, just a few centimetres make a huge difference. The people in these regions run the risk of becoming climate refugees.

Satellite data shows that the water level in Kiribati has risen up to 4 mm per year since 1993, compared to the global average of 2.8 to 3.6 mm per year. Settlements located on deep-lying parts of the islands, especially the coastal areas, are already regularly flooded during heavy storms. Drinking water is scarce on many South Sea islands because the groundwater is gradually becoming saline due to rising sea levels. On other islands, people are fighting for their livelihoods because the soil is salty and the shoals of fish are shrinking.

PSUP Contributions and Achievements

The Government of Kiribati is in the process of developing a National Urban Policy and establishing a General Land Use Plan for South Tarawa and Betio. Ongoing and planned initiatives in Kiribati will determine how PSUP can support the Government of the Republic of Kiribati. This support will draw on a ‘Menu of Services’ approach through the assessment of needs and identification of key entry points for the PSUP assistance in Phase III. This may include shoreline strengthening projects, the development of policy frameworks, strategic or site level planning and resource mobilisation, and/or capacities at national, city and community levels to galvanise national efforts towards improvement of living conditions of slum dwellers.