The independent Republic of Kiribati is a least developed small island state in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 100,000 (2011) on 800 km2. The nation is composed of 32 low-lying coral atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba, dispersed over 3.5 million km2, straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point.

The name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of Gilberts, which derives from the main island chain, named the Gilbert Islands after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert, who sailed through the islands in 1788. The capital, South Tarawa, consists of a number of islets connected through a series of causeways, located in the Tarawa archipelago. Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999. 

EU and Kiribati
The European Union's (EU's) partnership with the Republic of Kiribati began in 1979, making Kiribati among the EU's longest partners in the Pacific.

Kiribati has few natural resources, with fisheries being the most significant. Climate change is a key issue, with areas of particular concern being the deterioration of coastal zones, the need for clean water and the energy and fisheries sectors.

The outer island areas are severely disadvantaged with regard to social services and access to health, education, water and sanitation. It is estimated that less than half of the population of around 100,000 people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

Development Co-operation
All of the European Union's ongoing projects in Kiribati aim to improve living conditions in the outer islands. There are five on-going projects in Kiribati under the 10th European Development Fund bilateral envelope. These projects focus on the reduction of the current socio-economic imbalance between the urban and rural areas. Renewable energy and water and sanitation for outer islands were chosen as the two main areas of concentration to address social and economic development and reduce poverty in the outer islands. 

The Water and Sanitation project in Kiribati's Outer Islands (phase I and II) and the Improving Drinking Water Supply in Kiritimati Island project both seek to increase the access of i-Kiribati people to safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation facilities. The Solar Energy for Outer Islands Project aims to increase the energy security of rural communities, in particular schools, students and teachers.

In addition, the Environmentally Safe Aggregates to Tarawa (ESAT) project helps Kiribati cope with its vulnerability to climate change through the provision of an environmentally-safe source of construction material, which will prevent beach mining.

These projects are generating good results: under the ESAT project, a dredging barge was built and started its operations in 2014, while a company was set-up to ensure long-term sustainability of the project. Under the energy project, solar equipment has been installed in all the 16 outer islands of the Gilbert group. Schools have been among the first to benefit from the new solar photovoltaic equipment.

Under the water projects, water tanks and rainwater harvesting facilities were installed in the 16 outer islands, while community awareness-raising on sanitation issues has led to more than 10 islands being declared open-defecation free zones, with an immediate positive impact on public health.  In addition to these projects, Kiribati benefits from regional projects in fisheries, disaster risk management and climate change, deep sea minerals as well tourism and trade.

The 11th EDF National Indicative Programme (NIP) for the periods 2014-2020 was signed by the EU Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation, Neven Mimica, and the President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, in February 2015 in Bruxelles.  The overall objective of the sector aid is to contribute to the improvement of the social and economic development of Kiribati and to promote safer, healthier and cleaner environment as well as to increase climate change resilience while contributing to the overall sustainable living conditions for the population and the country’s transition to a green economy.

The specific objective aim is to contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development of the outer islands of Kiribati with a focus on Kiritimati Island with the main expected results: to develop, endorse and implement a Kiritimati Comprehensive Development Plan (Phase I) and to reinforce Kiribati capacities in Public Finance Management.  The tentative allocation is €23 million.

Phase I has already started with the successful recruitment of a team of i-Kiribati national and international experts (starting 19/06/2015) to develop the Line and Phoenix Integrated Development Strategy (ex. Kiritimati Comprehensive Development Plan). 10th EDF funds have been mobilised to this purpose. 

Financial overview: 11th EDF National Indicative Programme

Indicative allocation for 2014-2020


Indicative allocations
(in EUR)

As a % of the NIP

Supporting the Inclusive and Sustainable

Socio-Economic Development of Kiritimati Island

20 500 000

89% of total

Measures in favour of civil society included in the support measures

Support measures

2 500 000

11% of total


23 000 000