The government says it will intervene if the current drought continues. Fruit trees including taro and coconuts are the worst affected. Coconuts for copra production is the only source of revenue for the outer islands. Director of Kiribati Meteorological Service Moreti Tibriano helped develop the government's strategic drought plans.
Speaker: Moreti Tibriano, Director of Kiribati Meteorological Service
TIBRIANO: The drought in Kiribati is very bad at the moment, especially in the islands to the south of Kiribati, they are the ones affected badly by the drought. Based on our seasonal climate outlook we've had certain islands been affected since May last year and the rainfall that we've seen is below the average that we normally get for the southern islands.
COUTTS: What impact is that having though?
TIBRIANO: The impact is that the crops they are the ones that are really affected like the coconut. You can see the fruit of the coconut that they are really small and mostly the towns they are the ones who are really affected too.
COUTTS: What about water supply and food supplies?
TIBRIANO: At the moment I heard from the radio Kiribati ? the statements that people are complaining about the water, I'm talking about the people in southern islands. What they are doing at the moment they are fetching their water from the wells which is quite a distance from their homes. And now they get their water, they have to carry their buckets and they're using hosepipes to carry their buckets.
COUTTS: How much longer can they go on using the wells before they run dry if there's no rain?
TIBRIANO: Since we are not transit to the dry season now I think it might be a bit longer before they get the effect of ???
COUTTS: Will they have to ship in water soon?
TIBRIANO: Sorry it's not for us to ship water from one island to another.
COUTTS: Now have you been involved in President Anote Tong's strategy that if the rain doesn't come soon they have a strategic plan to intervene if the current drought continues? Have you been part of that?
TIBRIANO: Yeah that's right, I've been part of that, there are two programs in Kiribati now, one is the national ?? program and the other is the Kiribati ?? program, and I'm part of those programs.
COUTTS: So what is the plan of intervention if the drought continues? What are they planning?
TIBRIANO: Some plan is asking for donors to assist or they are looking for any assistance that can help the people of those islands. Like one they are planning to restore the desalination plant on the islands. There are two desalination plans on ?? and the other one they already install on the island of Ocean Island, which is usually call Ocean Island but now we call it Banaba.
COUTTS: So at what stage will the government intervene? How much longer will this drought continue before they intervene with their strategic plan?
TIBRIANO: As far as I know I think those are the priority ... the government's strategic plan now.
COUTTS: And so when will they go ahead with that though?
TIBRIANO: I think very soon, it depends on the approval of the World Bank and other donors.
COUTTS: Alright so is there any rain on the horizon?
TIBRIANO: That I can't predict that, it depends on climate, we think the drought is still continuing.