Kiribati drought at critical stage

Posted on 06 September 2022

Fears of malnutrition and other illnesses are mounting in Kiribati as the country grapples with an ongoing drought.

The Kiribati government in June declared a state of disaster after the discovery of high salinity levels in monitoring wells and very low rainfall. Head of UNICEF in Kiribati, Nick Rice Chudeau, said the drought can lead to poor health and hygiene practices from the lack of clean water:

"During a drought when water becomes scarce, people forfeit hygiene practices like handwashing with soap or bathing and this has a direct impact on children's health, their nutrition and that can lead to increasing cases of diarrhoea, skin infection or malnutrition."

The forecast is worst for the southern islands, which is home to 94,000 people or almost 80 percent of the population.