Tabiteuea Meang Trip

Development of the Integrated Environment and Natural Resources coManagement Plan at Tabiteuea North

On March 2nd, 2023 a team from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) went on an official 11-day trip to Tabiteuea North to develop an Integrated Environment and Natural Resources coManagement Plan (IENRMP) on the island. The team consisted of 9 officials from the Environment and Conservation Division of MELAD, 1 official from the Lands Management Division of MELAD, 1 official from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and 1 official from the Ministry of Women, Youth, Sport, and Social Affairs.

Tabiteuea North is one of the pilot islands covered under the Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project where an IENRMP will be developed to assist the islands in countering the effects of climate change. Three villages were chosen during the team’s meeting with the island’s full council which was held on the 3rd of March. The village of Aiwa was first visited, followed by Eita, and lastly the village of Tanaeang. During the consultations held with each of the villages, the team firstly briefed the villagers on the purpose of developing the IENRMP for the villages, then they gave presentations on the Environment Act 2021, Waste Sorting, and Climate Change. The villagers were able to build on the knowledge gained from the presentations by working with the team in developing a draft of their village’s IENRMP. Some of the common climate change issues raised by the villagers were the increase in salinity of well water, rising temperatures, coastal erosion, dieback of plantations and the reduction or loss of several marine resources. The team assisted the villagers in developing ways to alleviate and become more resilient to the effects of climate change and took record of these for further development of the villages’ final IENRMP during the team’s next visit to the island.

While working on the development of the three villages’ IENRMP, the team also managed to carry out several other environmental activities to build awareness and environmental data recording of the island. One of these was conducting a training and capacity building to the island’s Environment Extension Officer. An Environment Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Survey was also held at several households at all villages. Seagrass demarcations, School visits to the island’s Junior and Senior Secondary Schools, Police consultation, Waste auditing, Inspection of Environmental Licensing and Compliance, Identification of Mining Sites, and Mapping of environment significant features of the three targeted villages were also conducted.

With assistance from the island’s council members and villages, the team was able to complete all required activities before their return to Tarawa on the 13th of March 2023. The trip was funded by the Ridge to Reef Project through the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Agricultural Development.

Dinner Dialogue

Dinner Dialogue with Te Kamwengaraoi Steering Committee

A dinner dialogue with Te Kamwengaraoi Steering Committee was hosted by the Minister of MELAD, Ruateki Tekaiara, on Friday evening 10th February 2023 at the Ocean Family Restaurant in Bairiki.

The dialogue aimed at addressing the pressing issue of poor waste management on South Tarawa and to gain insights from community and church representatives on their views to addressing these.

One of the pressing issues raised for discussion was the deposition of inorganic wastes in beach brush constructions (“katei buibui”). As was presented by ECD-MELAD’s Waste Disposal Officer, it has become increasingly evident that inorganic wastes are being used to fill up these constructed beach brushes. These add to more pollution of beaches and sea when on a high-tide waves carry these wastes into the sea. The attendees were informed that a better alternative would be to use coconut leaves and organic wastes as backfill and were also encouraged to inform their community and church members of this.

While the Green Bag and Kaoki Maange Systems were noted to be currently active solutions to addressing the waste issues on South Tarawa, it was acknowledged that the systems are still in need of improvement with collaborative assistance from churches and communities.

Among those who attended were representatives from the Roman Catholic Church, Kiribati Protestant Church, Kiribati Uniting Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Assemblies of God, and Baha’i. A representative from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also joined MELAD officials in hosting the dialogue.

The dialogue was supported by the New Zealand funded Kiribati Solid Waste Management Programme Phase III through the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development.

Littering Enforcement Task-Force

Littering Enforcement Taskforce during the Lease Payment 20th January to 7th February 2023

To enforce the littering provision of the Environment Act 2021, the Littering Enforcement Taskforce of MELAD-ECD were stationed at all lease payment venues from 20th January 2023 until 7th February 2023. The Licensing, Compliance and Prosecution Section of ECD facilitated this activity with assistance from empowered Environment Inspectors from two Security firms, Kabwaian Betio Community and the Diocese of Tarawa and Nauru.

While the inspectors were stationed at the two lease payment venues (Arorae Maneaba and Tewakirake Maneaba), they also took time to monitor other areas including the Bairiki supermall, Bairiki square, BPA bus stand, Bairiki Police Station and Taotin Plaza. It was found that more people were littering at the Bairiki square, Taotin Plaza and BPA bus stand as demonstrated from the number of fines paid.

One of the major challenges faced by the inspectors was that several people refused to be fined as they claimed they were not aware of the littering offence under the Environment Act 2021. The public is urged to understand that the Environment Act 2021 does not only outline the responsibilities of the Environment and Conservation Division but also outlines the obligations of the public and all Kiribati citizens in protecting and ensuring the sustainable health of the Kiribati environment. For this, the issuing of fines is at the discretion of the inspectors with consideration of the context and situation at which the offence takes place.

The Littering Enforcement Taskforce is one of ECD’s active stakeholders consisting of community members and security firms. ECD works closely with this taskforce often during major events to enforce the Environment Act and to ensure littering is controlled. It is expected that these operations will continue during future Lease Payments and other major national events.

MELAD-ECD encourages the public to avoid littering and to throw all forms of wastes in green bags or in litter bins, where provided. The Environment Act was established to protect the environment from pollution for the benefit of the people and future generations of Kiribati.

Let us work together to ensure a sustainable and resilient Kiribati environment.

Blessing Ceremony of MELAD’s New Machinery

Blessing Ceremony For The Arrival Of MELAD’s New Machinery

A ceremony was held on Wednesday 1st February 2023 at the MELAD Head Quarter at Bikenibeu to bless a new Hyundai 12 tonne wheel loader that arrived in Kiribati to work on the landfills on South Tarawa. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of MELAD, HM Ruateki Tekaia, who gave a speech and words of appreciation to the New Zealand government for their support to the Government of Kiribati in providing the new wheel loader, that will help in solid waste management. The ceremony was also attended by the Secretary of MELAD with her team, including the Mayor, Council and Clerk from TUC and a Priest with two Brothers from the Bikenibeu Parish.

This machine was procured through the Kiribati – New Zealand Solid Waste Management partnership to help improve the management of Tarawa landfills. It is part of the long-term support to Kiribati to improve waste management that New Zealand has provided over the last ten years including supporting the Green Bag system. The machine is a great help to MELAD and the support of New Zealand in this important effort to improve the waste situation is greatly appreciated.

Since the landfills at Betio, Nanikaai and Bikenibeu are filling up at a rapid pace, the heavy machine will help compact the rubbish at the landfills to create more space for more rubbish to be deposited. The machine has special solid rubber wheels to enable it to drive around in the landfills and flatten the rubbish out without getting punctures. With this work, the landfills will be maintained for a longer period and allow for the land to be reclaimed for future purposes such as industrial use.

The public is urged to have their rubbish collected and sent to the landfills in order to avoid pollution to ground waters, the sea and coral reefs that could ultimately damage the environment that protects the islands. MELAD-ECD is working to improve the waste collection system as well as carrying out initiatives on solid waste management.  This can also be achieved with the general public’s cooperation by using the Green Bag as this will help prevent rubbish being scattered on the land, beaches and ocean.

Tobwaraoi Community Consultation

Consultation With Tobwaraoi Community, Nanikaai Village

On Friday, the 6th of January 2023, four staffs from the Red Cross and ECD visited Tobwaraoi Community at Nanikaai. The purpose of the visit involves a consultation meeting on how the community has maintained the cleanliness of their beach.

Tobwaraoi Community has one of the cleanest beaches on South Tarawa and the community has been sustainably managing the cleanliness of their beach for a commendable period of seven consecutive years. With the community’s full cooperation and perseverance as well as having their own constitution for designating each community member with a beach boundary to clean up, Tobwaraoi has been able to maintain a reputation for the cleanliness of their beach.

The community’s targets in maintaining their beach clean-ups include the protection of the ocean and marine life especially fish, which is their major food source, and preventing open defecation from the general public. Tourism is one of the main goals of this small community which they hope to achieve in the near future. By maintaining their coastal clean-ups, the practice has now become part of their everyday lives and has changed their behavior in relation to their waste management.  

ECD acknowledges and appreciates the community’s persevering efforts as it is from their full cooperation that a unique and good example is set, on how a community can get together to make a cleaner and healthier environment.

Beach Clean-up Campaign

Tungaru Youth Action Conducted Beach Clean-up Campaign

A beach clean-up campaign was conducted on Saturday 7th January 2023 at the Ananau Causeway and at the coastal areas of Tungaru Central Hospital. The campaign was initiated by the Tungaru Youth Action (TYA), a non-profit organization consisting mainly of youths and is also the first youth led action group in Kiribati.

In support of the campaign, ECD joined the clean-up along with members of other NGOs such as BIMBA, Kiribati Women in Mapping, Mom Uprising, The Possibility Network, Child Fund, and Clean Spatial Solution. The clean-up began with a walkathon from Bonriki International Airport and ended at the ocean side of Tungaru Central Hospital. There were around 40 volunteers in total during the 2-3 hour clean-up, not including community members and children who also joined the clean-up along the beaches behind the Tungaru Central Hospital.

Volunteers of the campaign managed to collect around 300 green bags of wastes ranging from household wastes such as plastic bottles and butane gases, to medical wastes such as syringes and medical containers. From these wastes, 90% were mainly medical wastes from the hospital. The green bags were disposed off at the Bikenibeu landfill with assistance from Clean Spatial Solutions.

ECD thanks TYA for this great initiative and all volunteers who participated in the campaign. ECD also extends its appreciation to other clean-up activities conducted on the same day at Betio and Ambo. These efforts in cleaning up our island contributes much to solving the problems of coastal pollution and is a huge step towards a greener and environment-friendly nation.