11 tons of critical relief supplies arrive in Kiribati to support on-going drought response
SUVA/TARAWA 8 July 2022 – A flight carrying life-saving emergency supplies touched down in Kiribati yesterday, strengthening the critical on-going response to the devastating drought in the country. The Pacific Humanitarian Air Service (PHAS), operated by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), transported the supplies on behalf of UNICEF.
This delivery includes essential emergency supplies, including first response household water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and dignity kits that consist of items such as collapsible water containers, buckets with lids, water purification tablets, and soap. The consignment also includes portable water field testing kits that will allow Kiribati authorities to monitor water quality at both source and household levels.
The Government of the Republic of Kiribati had declared a State of Disaster last month due to lasting drought conditions caused by below normal rainfall. So far this year, some areas have recorded less than 2.3 inches of rainfall. Some 119,000 people residing in Kiribati have been affected, including 94,000 people or 79 per cent of the total population in the severely impacted southern islands of the Gilbert Group, which is heavily dependent on rainwater harvesting.
UNICEF, together with partners, is providing immediate on-the-ground support to the government with the drought forecast to continue at least by the end of the year. UNICEF is working to strongly ensure that children and their families affected by the drought have access to safe drinking water as well as adequate hygiene services to protect them against water-borne diseases.
“The weather and rainfall patterns have become more erratic in Kiribati because of the climate crisis over the past few decades. These kinds of droughts are not new to the country, but have become more frequent, lasting longer and are more intense,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Kiribati Field Office, Nick Rice Chudeau. “We thank WFP for this timely support, and together with the Government of Kiribati, partners and communities, we will ensure that the most vulnerable, especially children, have access to good water, sanitation, hygiene, and overall health.”
This partnership between UNICEF and WFP plays a key part in supporting the ongoing response. It will strengthen the national capacity and build the resilience of communities to cope with the destructive effects of the disaster.
“The situation in Kiribati is very worrisome. Climate change has previously driven recurrent droughts in the country, but today the safety and health of the most vulnerable people in Kiribati is under threat, and on a much more severe scale,” said the Country Director of WFP’s Pacific Multi-Country Office, Alpha Bah.
“In these testing times, we are pleased to join forces with our friends at UNICEF to arrange this timely delivery of critical supplies to support the Kiribati Government’s response. We are also grateful to our partners and donors whose support has enabled the Pacific Humanitarian Air Service (PHAS) to deliver vital goods across the Pacific, when commercial air options are not available.”
The flight is also transporting pharmaceuticals on behalf of the Government of Kiribati.
WFP’s Pacific Humanitarian Air Service is a part of the greater Pacific Humanitarian Team’s COVID-19 Response Plan – a comprehensive regional response plan that seeks to consolidate efforts by UN agencies, governments, regional and multilateral organizations, NGOs, donors, and development partners. It operates under the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway established by the Pacific Islands Forum and its member countries. With generous funding from the European Union, the Government of Australia and USAID, WFP has so far run 40 flights, transporting a total of 317 tonnes of critical medical cargo across the Pacific region.
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Full photo credit for UNICEF Pacific photos: © UNICEF Pacific/2022/Temakei
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. In the Pacific, WFP works towards improving the capacity of Pacific Island Countries and Territories to reduce the risk of, prepare for and respond to disasters with a view of building a more resilient Pacific Community – while focusing on partnership and innovation utilizing the cluster approach.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
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