Biggest water project in Kiribati commences

(April 17, 2022) Installation of one of the Desalination Plants. PHOTO: Office of Te Beretitenti

People living in Kiribati’s most populated centres of South Tarawa, Betio and Buota expect to get safe and reliable water once the South Tarawa Water Supply Project (STWSP) is completed in five years.

The Kiribati Government announced the commencement of the USD$63.87 million water project this week.

The Office of the President said this is the biggest ever project to be carried out in the country and fulfils the government’s long-term vision, known as KV20, to enhance the livelihood of the people by providing clean water to the people of Kiribati.

Government hopes the completion of the project in 2027 will address the problem of water scarcity on South Tarawa and Betio. 

“The project will increase access to reliable, safe and climate resilient and metered drinking water supply, 24/7.  All households on South Tarawa, Betio and Buota will be connected to the new water supply network.”

The project is targeting the capital South Tarawa with a population of over 60,000 and with high rates of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery to name a few, said a statement from the Office of the President.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy confirmed bids for the two components of the project are currently being evaluated. These two components include the installation of two desalination plants, one at the Mackenzie point in Bikenibeu and the other at Temakin, Betio and the installation of the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) generation facility to offset the power required for operation by the Public Utilities Board (PUB). 

Implementation of the project’s main component will be carried out once the winning bidders are confirmed and the impacts of COVID-19 have eased in order to accomplish its target to complete this project in the near future.

The project is jointly funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank (WB), and the Government of Kiribati together with the Global Environment Fund (GEF).