Amanda Ellis, Head of the New Zealand Aid Programme, and Nisha Biswal, Assistant Administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have just signed a partnership agreement to support the Kiribati Solid Waste Management Initiative.
This Donor Funding Arrangement confirms a $500,000 contribution from USAID to the already functioning New Zealand/Kiribati Solid Waste Management Initiative (NZ$3.6m over three years).
Kiribati suffers from poor solid waste management processes. In South Tarawa, only 22 per cent of garbage produced by its 60,000 residents is currently being collected. In Kiritimati, the problem is worse, with collection of only one per cent of garbage.
The accumulation of waste has damaged coastal areas critical for food production and employment, and contributed to health problems,spreading waterborne and contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and lung infections, worm infestations, and skin infections among young children and the elderly.
The jointly-funded initiative aims to work in partnership with responsible agencies and communities in South Tarawa and Kiritimati Island to establish effective, efficient, functional solid waste management services. The Initiative will bring household garbage collection to over 80 per cent of households, increase the resilience of landfills to negative effects of climate change such as storm surge and sea level rise, and improve the capacity of the local governments to manage on going collection, recycling and disposal programmes.
Work led by the New Zealand High Commission began in South Tarawa in 2011, and has achieved noticeable results: three landfills are now licensed and operating effectively; the recycling yard has been rehabilitated with over 40 tonnes of PET bottles shipped off island; and a household (pre-paid bag) rubbish collection system was introduced in March 2012. Similar activities have begun on Kiritimati Island this year.
“This is a flagship project of practical collaboration between New Zealand and the US in the Pacific that will make a tangible difference to the people of Kiribati,” Amanda Ellis said. “We are looking to find other ways to work together in the Pacific in the months ahead.”
Assistant Administrator Biswal added that USAID was committed to maximizing the development impact their dollars spent through coordination with donor partners such as New Zealand.
“We believe that this program is a prime example of how together we can have a significant positive impact on the lives of the people of Kiribati,” she said.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Tarawa, Mike Walsh added that he was looking forward to working with the United States in this area and is sure there will be further “good news stories” to come.