European Union External Action

Kiribati and the EU

26/05/2016 - 15:37
EU relations with Country

Kiribati (capital: South Tarawa) is a small state composed of 33 coral atolls/islands with a population of just over 100,000. It has few natural resources apart from fisheries.

The EU's partnership with Kiribati began in 1979.

Key issues

  • Climate change (deterioration of coastal zones)
  • Need for clean water
  • Energy and fisheries.
  • Access to social services (health, education) water and sanitation – especially in the outer islands. Less than half the population have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

Development cooperation

All EU funding aims to improve living conditions in the outer islands (reducing the socio-economic imbalance between urban and rural areas) and increase climate change resilience.

Past EU assistance

Ongoing projects under the European Development Fund, focusing on renewable energy and water and sanitation

  • Water & Sanitation project in Kiribati's Outer Islands  (KIRIWATSAN II)
  • Improving Drinking Water Supply in Kiritimati Island
    Both seek to increase access to safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation facilities. 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


EU-New Zealand partnership for sustainable development in the Pacific: success story in Kiribati

Kiritimati Island Energy Sector Project (KIESP) is a first true collaboration between New Zealand and the EU. This is a group of projects aiming at rebuild the dilapidated electricity system on Kiritimati Island. The main objective is to provide improved access on Kiritimati Island to a well-managed, efficient, reliable, affordable, and clean electricity system.

Regional funding

In addition to these projects, Kiribati benefits from regional projects in, disaster risk management and climate change,education and sustainable energy and trade.

Current EU assistance

Funding under the EDF – up to €23 million in 2014-20 – continues the focus on  developing the outer islands, especially Kiritimati, specifically:

  • developing and implementing a Kiritimati Comprehensive Development Plan (Phase I)
  • reinforcing Kiribati's capacities in public finance management.  

A Line and Phoenix Integrated Development Strategy has been adopted by the Government of Kiribati in 2016. This is the backbone strategy for future EU and partners interventions in these groups of Islands. The EU is now closely working with the NAO and line Ministries in Tarawa and Kiritimati in the identification of the key sectors EU could support to contribute to a sustainable inclusive socio-economic development of Kiritimati island.

Funding for 2014-20 under the EDF


Indicative funding
(€ million)

As a % of the total

Supporting the inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development of Kiritimati Island



Measures for civil society included in the support measures

Support measures






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