When Safe Water is a Daily Struggle

Childen in Kiribati with Mother

Meet Aata* and Teieka*, two precious children along with their mother, Temaete*, from Kiribati – a collection of 33 islands in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.

Temaete, lives with her family in one of Betio's most vulnerable communities. Their days are overshadowed by a relentless three-year drought, where drinking water is scarce and unsafe to drink.

For families like Aata and Teieka's, the pursuit of fresh, safe water is a daily struggle. With groundwater a mere 1-2 meters beneath the surface and the highest point above sea level barely reaching 3 meters, the frequent king tides which wash over the island renders Kiribati's groundwater supply salty and unfit for drinking. Inadequate waste disposal and livestock waste further compound the contamination.

Temaete and her family rely on water from a public pipe, rationed to four 20-litre buckets every three days – an inadequate supply for her family's basic needs. Yet, the daily struggle extends beyond quantity; the water must be painstakingly boiled for safety, a process requiring Aata and Teieka to comb the beaches for scarce driftwood to build fires, often at the expense of attending school.

During this long period of drought children are affected with sickness including sore and itchy skin, diarrhea and vomiting, due to unsafe water.

The limited access to clean, safe water takes a devastating toll, resulting in sickness and even death among the children in the community. Kiribati bears the heavy burden of the Pacific's highest child mortality rate, with the lack of access to safe drinking water contributing to deaths in children under five years.

ChildFund stands shoulder to shoulder with the community and local partners, undertaking various projects to transform the landscape of water accessibility for these vulnerable children and families. From installing solar-powered water distillation tanks in preschools, schools, and community centers to providing individual families with 10L solar-powered water purification units, work is underway to make positive change. Efforts are also in progress to build crucial infrastructure, such as roofs and guttering, to harvest rainwater, coupled with spreading knowledge about best water, hygiene, and sanitation practices for optimal health and water management.

"Ever since drinking water is being collected from the system (water tanks), it has reduced the frequent infection of diarrhea and vomiting in children" says David Kakiakia, ChildFund Programme Manager in Kiribati.

The funds raised in the ChildFund Water Run will serve as a lifeline for these life-saving and innovative initiatives. Your support can bring the gift of safe, clean drinking water to more children, just like Aata and Teieka, in the heart of Kiribati. When children thrive, the world thrives.

*names have been shortened to protect the family’s privacy.

child in Kiribati with mother

You can support the work we’re doing in the Pacific by supporting the ChildFund Water Run. Not only will you help bring safe clean drinking water to the children of the Pacific, you'll help give children the chance to learn and play, just like children should.