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Program commenced: 1982
Total number of placements: 247 (as of 22 June, 2011)
Number of current placements: 8 (as of 22 June, 2011)
AVI Programs: Australian Volunteer program, Pacific Technical Assistance Facility, Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism, Volunteer Graduate Program, Kiribati Black Pearl Project
Kiribati is a group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean. Once a British protectorate, then a colony, Kiribati gained complete independence in 1979 while remaining a member of the Commonwealth.
This low-lying nation is subject to damage wrought by sea level changes, typhoons and tornadoes.
Kiribati has few natural resources and relies mostly on fishing and the sale of fishing rights. Physical remoteness and lack of access to technology and markets are impediments to the development of Kiribati, and the outer islands are particularly vulnerable.
AVI's work in Kiribati has historically been education and training focused, though recent efforts have led towards placements that increase employment and (professional) development opportunities for the local workforce.
Contact our Fiji & Kiribati program office.
Despite increasing economic growth, Kiribati continues to face a number of socio-economic issues. Economic development in Kiribati is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. The main problems arising from these constraints are the twin issues of poverty and unemployment.
Although Kiribati has made significant progress in providing education, there is room for expansion of senior secondary and vocational educational opportunities to address the pervasive shortage of skilled staff. Vocational and tertiary educational opportunities within Kiribati are limited and training at higher levels for most professions must be undertaken overseas.
Kiribati also has difficulties in extending infrastructure to outer islands due to the high costs involved. Air transport is of great importance due to the scattered and remote nature of the territory. Electricity supply in South Tarawa is precarious with frequent breakdowns and fluctuations in voltage. Electricity supply in the rest of the country depends on generators.
Although health indicators have improved in recent years Kiribati continues to see the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific, low life expectancy and a high incidence of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. Many of Kiribati's health trends can be attributed to contamination of water supplies and water shortages.
Tuberculosis is a serious health problem and there are regular outbreaks of dengue fever and occasional cases of leprosy and typhoid. The first HIV case was reported in Tarawa in 1991. At the end of 2006 there had been 51 cases of HIV infection reported.
There is a shortage of trained medical personnel in Kiribati. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the population of Kiribati is dispersed across a vast area of ocean, making it much more difficult to provide cost effective health services to the outer islands.
For up-to-date information and statistics on health in Kiribati, please refer to the following site:
WHO Kiribati country profile
Land is a precious resource and the i-Kiribati are becoming increasingly more conscious of the need for resource protection. One reason for this is the threat of global warming. Global warming has serious implications for Kiribati as rising sea levels pose a real threat to its already small land area. Rising seas could also reduce the availability of fresh water.
Another major and immediate concern is the management of waste and the control of pollution. Fresh water supplies in the country are limited and fresh water lenses at Betio, Bairiki and Bikenibeu have been withdrawn from use due to fecal contamination. To this end the greater use of alternative sewage disposal systems and solid waste disposal, as well as closer attention to rainwater catchment and storage is critical. These environmental concerns are most pronounced on South Tarawa - where more than 30 per cent of the population live.
Commercialisation of many marine species such as tuna, baitfish and giant clams has put pressure on these resources and identified a need for protective legislation and sustainable utilisation/production strategies.