Building urban water resilience in Small Island Countries: the case of South Tarawa, Kiribati

The water sector in South Tarawa, the capital city of Kiribati, is entering a time of deep transition. In a small island context risks can materialize faster than elsewhere and have disproportionate consequences. Strengthening water sector resilience is therefore critical to people’s welfare and to the economy. This report was conducted in parallel to the preparation of the South Tarawa Water Supply Project, to provide a diagnostic of the remaining vulnerabilities the capital city’s water supply sector may face after the completion of this project. Its main objective is to inform decisions by the Government of Kiribati on how to address these vulnerabilities. Section one gives introduction. Section two sets the stage with a brief presentation of the concept of water supply resilience in a context of water scarcity. Section three provides a summary of water supply conditions in South Tarawa and analyzes the impacts of various stresses and shocks on freshwater availability. Section four discusses potential measures to reduce water supply deficits during major crises. Section five offers an overview of these measures, in the form of an action plan, and presents several lessons that can be applied in water scarce cities in small islands and elsewhere.