Kiribati tides and coastal erosion move some inland
Some on Kiribati south islands are deciding to move permanently inland, fearing more destructive tides, and coastal erosion.
A Kiribati National Disaster manager says some on the southern islands are deciding to move permanently inland, fearing more destructive tides, and coastal erosion.
Tides of more than 2.9 metres flooded low-lying Kiribati islands at the end of February, with Cylone Pam exacerbating problems, particularly on the southern islands.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
On Tamana island, which has a population of about 850 people, 65 households were destroyed, and over 100 damaged.
The Kiribati National Disaster Manager, Michael Foon, says during the initial response, the government brought in tools and chainsaws to assist the communities with rebuilding their homes.
He says some have rebuilt, while others still need assistance.
"Some of these people moved inland to their own plots of lands, but being a small island as it is, they are sort of cluttered in the middle of the island. Some of them have returned to their original location, but some have decided to stay there, while others are still undecided."
He says some don't feel safe moving back closer to the sea.
"Some people are scared to move back, fearing that another event will happen in the future. Some however find that the piece of land or the plot that they've been staying in, in the village for quite awhile, is being eroded away by sea. It's getting smaller and smaller, it makes more sense to stay in the middle of the island where it's more safer than risking their properties to coastal erosion."
The secretary general of the Kiribati Red Cross Society, Meaua Betiota, says they've helped provide hygiene awareness, trained community members in first aid and created recovery plans.
"Our focus now is on rehabilitating the damaged water sources, and supporting the installation of new rain water harvesting systems. Water is a number one priority with the kiribati red cross now because that's the life of people, all the water wells were contaminated after the storm."
Michael Foon says cabinet has now approved the next phase of long term recovery work, with the top priority being access to safe drinking water.
The officer in charge of the Kiribati Weather Service, Ueneta Toorua, says as they enter into El Nino conditions, higher tides and rainfall is expected.
He says the higher rainfall can be good news in terms of harvesting rain water, but will make things difficult for others.
"In Tarawa, I think that's not good news to the project that's going on on the main island, which is the upgrading of the main roads. Most of the time heavy rain causes more damages to the roads, and workers are unable to do their work."
A vital link between the port on Betio and South Tarawa, the Nippon Causeway, had also suffered damage by seasonal tides earlier this year.
It is now fully functional, but the government says major reconstruction is being planned for the walls of the causeway.
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