Known for its white sandy beaches and friendly people, the island of Kiribati is slowly being consumed by rising sea levels.
In a recent visit by The University of the South Pacific’s Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) team to the island nation from July 3-10, the islanders have attested to the impacts of what they believe is a result of climate change.
One thing the islanders acknowledged is the extended period where they experience little to no rainfall. This then directly impacts their source of drinking water apart from saltwater intrusion.
A few of the families the team spoke to have admitted moving their drinking well several times as a result of this.
As is the case with Tuvalu and Nauru, the people of Kiribati are now heavily reliant on desalination plants to cater for their cooking and drinking needs.
To further demonstrate the impact the islanders are facing, a few of the islanders also shared that they have had to move the burial site of their loved ones so it is not engulfed by the rising sea.
However, they feel that this will be a futile exercise if attitudes towards small Pacific Island states and their existence do not change.
The story is the same when the team also visited North Tarawa with a hotel owner expressing how water is often shared with the village next to her establishment as it is their only source of freshwater.
She has also resorted to moving the drinking well set up for her business in order to provide fresh water for her customers.
The growing of fresh fruits and vegetables is also affected due to saltwater intrusion and extreme heat. The majority of what the islanders consume are imported, which ultimately impacts their food security and nutrition intake.
Kiribati is the fourth country visited by the USP POCCA team after Fiji, Nauru and Tuvalu.
The POCCA Project is a three-year project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), New Zealand co-partnered by the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), University of South Pacific (USP) and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury (UC) under separate grant funding arrangements.