2 Nov 2011

Kiribati leader says water change risks remain

3:27 pm on 2 November 2011

The Kiribati caretaker president, Anote Tong, says the threat of changes to water due to rising sea levels could be more immediate than is perceived.

Kiribati is not facing the drought that has affected Tokelau, Tuvalu and Samoa, but as sea levels rise, water is becoming more brackish, and on the main atoll of Tarawa, there are indications more fresh water is being used than is being replenished by rain.

The caretaker President, Anote Tong, says some islands are more vulnerable than others.

"As long as the weather continues the way it is, and as long as the climate continues to change the way it is, Tuvalu has already screamed about the crisis it is facing, I think more will happen. I've just been to the outer islands, and I am seeing a lot of coconut trees dying. That touches directly on the source of income for our people, and livelihood. So if the trend continues, I think the problem is much more immediate than we perceive."

Anote Tong says Tarawa is overpopulated and the only solution may be for people to return to the outer islands.