Little or Small is Beautiful!!!

14 June 2011

Pelenise Alofa
Kiribati Climate Action Network

A world without Pacific Islands?  Could we imagine or dream that we could live without the Pacific?  Could we afford such injustice?  The Pacific CAN and its national nodes, such as Kiribati, were borne out of this conscience to protect the rights of people of the Pacific and the whole world.  Kiribati has a right to develop.
Kiribati Climate Action Network has more than 50 NGOs and CBOs working together to save Kiribati.  Our dynamic team has been active in the following activities: international & domestic advocacy, capacity building workshops, and awareness-raising programs in Tarawa and all the way to the outer islands.  The challenge we face is the lack of funding to reach all islands. Kiribati has 33 islands all scattered within more than 2000 square miles of water!   

Our people are resilient but they need capacity to help them to adapt to the ongoing challenges they face every day.  They have a right to own their lands and to their culture.  This is our biggest threat and fear – resettlement! Our dignity comes from owning our own land, which our ancestors and forefathers have kept and passed on to us.  We are nothing without our lands….we would become second class citizens!  Even though our lands are small, they have given us everything in the past and present, and we are satisfied.  We have witnessed families moving away from their homes because of water salination and coastal erosion.   We have witnessed a whole village drinking brakish or contaminated water.  We have sent out an SOS messages to provide water tanks to these people immediately but what’s the use of the water tank when there is NO rain?  People will die of thirst before the rain comes!

Without the extended family culture that we embrace today, many people will be homeless. The impacts of climate change have put strain on families who are caring for their extended families.  In the past, caring for one and another does not put strain as people can return to their own homes or land but today, our extended families have no where to go; they are with us permanently!

Today, KiriCAN is working on water and sanitation projects in communities. We assist the Kiribati Adaptation Project office to reach communities and our funding comes from NZAid.  We provide awareness on the best way to conduct water harvesting and waste management.  Our people have a right to clean water and to a clean environment.

I thank CAN-I for helping to build capacity for our leaders to improve the quality of their work in supporting the Pacific Islands.  NOW let us join hands to raise the voice of the global conscience from Bonn! Let us give precedence to the shared values of humanity over our POLITICAL and ECONOMIC goals!!!

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