Dynamic Adaptive Management Pathways for Drinking Water Security in Kiribati
Pierre Mukheibir, Lousie Boronyak-Vasco and Pelenise Alofa
The remote Pacific Island nation of Kiribati is comprised of a group of 33 low lying coral atolls that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change from variations in precipitation and rising sea levels (Tisdell 2008). Kiribati is considered one of the least developed Pacific Islands with few natural resources. Economic development is hampered by a shortage of skilled workers, poor infrastructure and isolation from international markets.
Kiribati has an average elevation of less than two metres above sea level exposing the local water resources of communities across Kiribati to saltwater intrusion into groundwater resulting from frequent coastal inundation and accelerated coastal erosion caused by sea level rise and the increased frequency of storms and tropical cyclones (Tisdell 2008). This makes the water unfit for people to drink and bathe, increases the risk of epidemics, and reduces potential agricultural yields. Such effects place additional strain on people’s livelihoods and wellbeing (economic security, health, infrastructure etc.) (Kuruppu 2009; de Freitas et al. 2013). Illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia are the leading causes of death in Kiribati and are strongly related to poor hygiene from limited access to potable water and a lack of sanitation facilities (White et al. 2008a, b).
P. Mukheibir (H) • L. Boronyak-Vasco
The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
© Springer International Publishing AG 2017
W. Leal Filho (ed.), Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries, Climate Change Management, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50094-2_17
These impacts are likely to be compounded by the projected impacts of climate change that will likely have a negative affect on both the quantity and quality of groundwater resources through variations in precipitation and rising sea level (White et al. 2007; Kuruppu and Liverman 2011). Recently the Government of Kiribati operationalised various national adaptation programmes in which the water sector has been identified as a vulnerable sector to climate change impacts (PCCSP 2011b).