Source: ONE News
New Zealand is promising to come to the aid of Kiribati as it
grapples with dire overcrowding and serious health issues.
The main island of Tarawa is already at crisis point and the
population is expected to double in the next decade.
At first glimpse Tarawa appears picture perfect, but the reality
is 55,000 people crammed into 13 square kilometres and living in
"Humanitarian conditions there are by far the worst in the
region - the sort of thing you wouldn't expect to see in our part
of the world. And I don't think any New Zealander should feel good
about that," says Foreign Minister Murray McCully, visiting
Kiribati has the Pacific's highest child mortality rate.
Diseases like TB spreads quickly in the country because of a lack
of clean water and a sewage system.
ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver says the problem
is lack of money, resources and shrinking land.
Dreaver reported from one area which she said used to be
"But the sea has completely eaten it away, leaving behind a
mangrove swamp and a few stranded houses," she said.
People from the outer islands have flocked to Tarawa in the hope
of finding work. But unemployment is around 80 percent.
"Until we can create alternative opportunities for people in the
outer islands this is going to continue to happen," says Anote
Tong, Kiribati President. "And it's pushing utilities, it's
New Zealand is intensifying aid efforts in Kiribati, supporting
a marine training centre so graduates can get work with
international shipping companies.
New Zealand also just signed up to help ease the slums by
"This country has significant challenges. The New Zealand
Government is determined to provide some partnership," Mr McCully
Aid agencies are also climbing on board, most working in the
deteriorating health arena.
One group goes from village to village, educating parents
roadside to immunise their children.
Barbara Dreaver says it's about protecting the young and giving
them a future to look forward to.