ADB Addresses Social and Health Concerns in Kiribati

News Release | 8 February 2006

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (8 February 2006) - ADB will address social concerns and health threats in Kiribati in its program for 2006-2007 through a focus on development of outer island growth centers.

ADB's country strategy and program (CSP) update for the island nation earmarks about US$10 million for a loan to be offered on concessional terms for a Kiritimati (Christmas) Island Growth Center project. Special attention will be paid to land and water issues. The proposed lending level is linked to the country's performance on economic and sector management and project performance.

"The updated CSP aims to consolidate and build on achievements of past programs, while focusing on longer-term development issues to achieve maximum development impact," says Naomi Chakwin, Regional Director at ADB's Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney.

Kiribati's economic growth has lagged population growth since 2002, a situation that is projected to continue for the foreseeable future. Nearly half of the country's estimated population of 90,000 lives in South Tarawa, the capital atoll.

"With the capital attracting a large flow of people from remote islands, many of them setting up as squatters, the stresses on resources and services in South Tarawa have risen to alarming levels," adds Nancy Convard, an ADB Senior Country Programs Specialist at ADB's Sydney office.

Kiritimati Island - the world's biggest atoll, occupies half of the nation's land area. The Government has identified the island as a growth area and is encouraging people from the smaller outer island atolls to resettle on state-owned land there. ADB's planned project will construct the key infrastructure needed to promote economic growth.

ADB's pipeline for Kiribati also includes a grant program amounting to $1.2 million for three technical assistance projects. One will improve social conditions and help the Government carry out its Population Policy, which aims to slow the country's rapid population growth. Another will help the country undertake the second phase of land management assistance for Kiritimati.

A third technical assistance project is planned to follow up on water supply and sanitation activities started under a recently completed ADB Sanitation, Public Health, and Environment Improvement Project.