Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Youth and water a feature at Kiribati COP15 event

1 in every 100 infants in Kiribati dies before their first birthday because of contaminated water in the low-lying atoll nation. The grim statistic was part of a slideshow given by climate change officer in the Kiribati Ministry of Environment, Micheal Foon during a COP15 side event hosted by Kiribati. Statistics suggest that Kiribati has the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific followed by Papua New Guinea and Marshall Islands. “How many more children will die before we do something about it?," asked Foon in the emotionally-charged moment.

Kiribati is one of the Pacific nations already bearing the brunt of sea level rise worsened by climate change. The lack of fresh water is becoming a threat requiring international assistance to help officials implement adaptive measures.Tessie Eria Lambourne, (pictured, above) is working with the Kiribati Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She says Australia and New Zealand have been helping the adaptation process. “We have a program called the Kiribati – Australia Nursing Initiative (KINA) which trains our young people to get Australian university qualifications in nursing,” she said. The KINA program not only educates  the students, but provides them with opportunities to stay and work in Australia. “This is the model that we are trying to get all the developed countries to assist us in training our people to your standards and international standards so we can help you fill your labor gaps,” she appealed. In the meanwhile, youth have been working in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment in Kiribati to help in adaptive measures. Foon said youth in the environment youth club were involved in all sectors of the environment. “At the moment, we are trying to engage them in mangrove planting and that is our current focus of adaptive measures among the youth-- to help them help others".
Rachna Lal
Climate Pasifika

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