Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bass) is one of the world’s smallest and lowest lying countries, located in the central Pacific Ocean. Although its land mass covers just 811 square kilometres, its 33 coral atolls are spread over an area the size of the United States of America, with the vast majority rising no higher than three metres above sea level. This small land mass, coupled with a high fertility rate, means the main centres of Kiribati are severly overcrowded.
Kiribati: the facts
Once blessed with large deposits of phosphate, Kiribati’s economy is now mostly reliant upon overseas aid, income from fishing licenses and remittances sent back from merchant seamen. Mostly, Kiribati are employed in fishing and subsistence farming, although poor soil fertility limits production.
Although the majority of children attend primary school, only 15 percent graduate to secondary school. Unemployment rates remain high and their are limited opportunities for young people. Just two-thirds of the population have access to an improved source of drinking water and less than 40 percent have access to adequate sanitation facilities. Tuberculosis, dengue fever, leprosy and typhoid remain are the major health concerns. Average life expectancy is 65 years and infant mortality is 39 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Kiribati is listed as an ‘endangered country’ by the United Nations (UN) because of the dangers it faces from rising seas levels. Kiribati also faces contaminated fresh water supplies and poor waste management practices.
Limited sources of revenue, the high cost of delivering basic services like education and healthcare to remote islands, limited employment opportunities, and the impacts of climate change all present significant development challenges for Kiribati.
Caritas Australia in Kiribati
Through our local partner Caritas Australia implemented 1 project in Kiribati in 2010/2011. The project focused on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Snapshot of our recent work
- 16 young people from Kiribati, with the support of senior community leaders,have been trained as facilitators to visit low-lying outer islands and raise awareness about the impact of climate change
- 36 communities across 7 islands have been supported to mitigate the impacts of man made erosion and protect their fresh water supply.