Kiribati National Expert Group, Regional Support team and Abaiang Island Development Committee Discuss Lessons Learned under the Kiribati Whole of Island Approach

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Abaiang was selected as one of the two vulnerable islands identified by the Kiribati cabinet in August 2013 under the Whole of Island (WoI) approach. The WOI approach is an initiative driven by the government in support of a holistic approach to climate change and disaster risk projects, moving away from a sector-based and project-by-project paradigm.

With almost three years since the WoI was executed in the island of Abaiang, the regional support team (SPREP, SPC and GIZ) supported the Kiribati National Expert Group (KNEG) comprising of representatives from government ministries and the Abaiang Island Development Committee (IDC) consisting of island councillors, elders, island mayor, police, teachers, nurses, youth and women to discuss lessons learned under the WoI framework from the 8 to 11 of February 2016.

In her opening speech, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of Te Beretitenti (the president) Ms. Saitofi Mika highlighted the importance of the Whole of Island approach to the government and the need to draw lessons learned, identify the gaps and avenues to improve and strengthen the Whole of Island approach which the government envisaged to replicate in other outer islands.

The workshop discussions were grouped but not limited on lessons learned in four thematic areas (i) Creating an Enabling Environment, Governance and Leaderships (ii) Project Implementation (iii) Knowledge Management and Communication and (iv) Project Sustainability. The aim was to identify achievements, gaps and lessons learned under each of the themes.

Some of the themes that groups identified included the following:

“The WOI approach has revived and strengthened the roles and responsibilities of IDC in coordinating climate change and disaster risk projects, and directing project support to vulnerable communities” (Abaiang IDC Summary Report).

“When working with communities – demonstration projects (e.g. Model farm) coupled with training will enhance skills and ownership at the community level” (KNEG Summary Report).

“Establishing a common definition of new and technical terms in the local vernacular is important to avoid use of multiple definitions and miscommunication of terms. Utilising existing terminology and definitions of ministries is important. Consolidating and standardising translated terms and definitions from across different ministries into a single document/glossary for use in communities should be considered” (KNEG Summary Report).

“Stemming the culture of dependence on projects to constantly provide assistance to communities should be addressed through encouraging greater independence by communities” (Abaiang IDC Summary Report).

The workshop officially closed with the dissemination of the Abaiang Island-Kiribati Whole of Island Integrated Vulnerability Assessment (IVA) Synthesis Report to IDC and KNEG members.

This initiative was made possible with funding from US AID, The European Union and GIZ.

For more information contact Azarel Mariner at