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World Bank Board Approves Support to Increase Climate Change Resilience for Kiribati’s 100,900 People

September 15, 2011

Washington DC, September 15, 2011 – The World Bank board today approved the third phase of the Kiribati Adaptation Program. The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAP III) Project aims to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the climate change impacts on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure.

Kiribati is a small island country extremely vulnerable to climate change effects such as sea-level rise; and climate-related hazards, such as drought. Most of Kiribati’s population and infrastructure is located along coastal areas, directly exposed to storm surges, coastal erosion and inundation. Increasing saline intrusion in groundwater and prolonged droughts reduce freshwater supply and impact the health of the population, exacerbating the already extreme fragility of the country due to accelerated coastal development and environmental degradation.

Kiribati faces potential economic damages due to climate change and sea level rise of up to one third of its gross domestic product. In addition, due to ongoing droughts and contamination, fresh water supply is very low. Infant mortality rate due to diarrheal diseases in the country are the highest in the Pacific.

The challenge posed by climate change is nowhere more evident and immediate than in Kiribati,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director, Pacific, PNG, Timor-Leste. “Loss of land and fresh water supplies undermines the basic rights of survival and development of this small island nation.”

Through this project and together with four development partners we are committed to scaling up our level of engagement to address the most pressing effects of climate change and sea level rise. Improved management of water resources and coastal infrastructure will increase the capacity of Kiribati’s communities to adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change,” he said.

The KAP III Project will help improve climate resilience by both strengthening the Government and community’s capacity to manage climate change effects and improving the management and governance of water resources and infrastructure. The project will also focus on increasing community fresh water quality and storage capacity and better protecting targeted coastal areas from storm waves and flooding.

The project will build on the results of the KAP II project, which piloted climate adaptation measures including: the planting of 37,000 mangroves, construction of seawalls to increase coastal protection against the effects of storms and flooding, rain water harvesting and improvements in water supply in selected priority areas.

The US$10.8 million KAP III Project will be financed by AusAID, the Global Environment Facility–Least Developed Country Fund, Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and the Government of Kiribati.

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