Raising awareness of climate change in Kiribati

The Disaster Response and Preparedness program was funded by AusAID and implemented by Caritas Australia in four Pacific Island countries. This three-year initiative aimed to further build the capacity of our partners to prepare for and respond to disasters. In Kiribati, Caritas Australia, in partnership with the Diocese of Tarawa and Nauru, trained local young people to work with communities to raise awareness about, and identify solutions to, the impacts of climate change.


About the program

Climate change has already started to have an impact on Kiribati village communities. In some places, salt water has contaminated wells storing drinking water, and high tides have destroyed land crops – threatening the food security of communities reliant on subsistence agriculture. Many communities are unaware of how to compete with the increasing challenges to their livelihoods they are now facing.

The Kiribati team

Caritas Australia, in partnership with the Diocese of Tarawa and Nauru, identified the need to support communities to combat the increasing effects of climate change. A group of young people were trained with the support of local elders to visit communities to raise awareness and identify strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This is the first time the Diocese has been able to reach and support so many outlying island communities.

Measures taken by communities as a result of the awareness raising efforts of the young people have included improved efforts to protect water from salt water contamination by reducing pollution and covering wells.

Through this initiative, young i-Kiribati have been given the opportunity to gain skills and confidence to talk about the issue of climate change. Young people are often hidden within their communities, but through the program, are able to be a voice of support for their communities. This increased confidence has led to the young people becoming strong advocates for their small island nation at international climate change forums around the world.

Story of a Shrinking Nation is a Caritas Australia blog, 23 August 2011, by Stephanie Lalor, Program Coordinator for the Pacific Islands. Stephanie spoke with a group of young people in Kiribati raising awareness about climate change.

In concert with Creation, on page 11 of Caritasnews magazine Spring 2011, is about the work being done by Father Michael McKenzie to help Kiribati communities adjust to and prepare for the effects of a changing climate. There are a number of other interesting articles in the edition that report on our climate justice work in other countries. 

Program details

  • Issues: Disaster Risk Reduction; Climate justice
  • Partner Agency: Diocese of Tarawa and Nauru
  • Funding in 2012/13 financial year: AU $50,000
  • Geographic location: Kiribati
  • When established: 2009