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World Bank Vice President Arrives in Kiribati
Vice President Victoria Kwakwa makes inaugural visit to Pacific Island nation   TARAWA, KIRIBATI, August 31, 2017 – World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa is in Kiribati on an inaugural visit to discuss with senior government officials the development priorities of the Pacific Island nation and the prospects for the region, as outlined in the World Bank’s upcoming flagship report Pacific Possible. “It’s an honor to welcome the Vice President to Kiribati and to show her some true i-Kiribati hospitality,” said Hon. Dr. Teuea Toatu, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, during the bilateral meeting. “We have a strong relationship with the World Bank and are looking forward to furthering our work, including the development of the outer islands and improving connectivity through a new high-speed internet cable connection.” The World Bank currently supports six projects across the country, totaling US$90 million, including an upgrading of the South Tarawa Road – a vital link used by all 50,000 people living in Tarawa, initiatives to boost solar energy generation, and adaptation activities to better prepare the island for the impacts of climate change. “We are excited about strengthening our partnership with the government and people of Kiribati,” said Kwakwa. “We look forward to extending the fruits of this partnership to more people, especially in the outer islands, including through infrastructure and other priority areas identified by the government.” Several planned initiatives will improve the quality of public services as well as strengthen the country’s competitiveness and investment climate. These projects include a high-speed internet connection to Tarawa scheduled for late 2019; a water and sanitation project to be undertaken in partnership with the Asian Development Bank; and investments in Kiribati’s outer islands, particularly key maritime infrastructure like jetties and wharves. While in the country, Ms. Kwakwa will also travel to North Tarawa to see initiatives under phase three of the Kiribati Adaptation Program, including rainwater harvesting systems and officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony for a water reticulation project on South Tarawa. Following her visit to Kiribati, Ms. Kwakwa will join the 48th Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Meeting, where she and the Hon. Prime Minister of Samoa will formally launch the Pacific Possible report to participating heads of state.
Walters slammed over abuse interview
BARBARA Walters is the latest star to find herself sucked into the death spiral of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Sessions Says Comey Made Big Error on Clinton Probe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday defended his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Mr. Sessions cited the "significance of the error" Mr. Comey made in handling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use for his recommendation that Mr. Comey be fired. Photo: Getty
Kiribati’s Over-Reliance on Fuel to End With World Bank Project
More than 50,000 people set to benefit from solar energy Tarawa Kiribati, September 23, 2016 – Large-scale solar panels installed at four government owned facilities were officially unveiled today as part of a new World Bank project designed to reduce Kiribati’s dependence on imported fuel. The Kiribati Grid Connected Solar PV Project, funded through the World Bank by the Australian Government and the Global Environment Facility, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from diesel fuel used for electricity, saw the unveiling today of 548kW of  solar installations by representatives from the Government of Kiribati, Government of Australia, and Kiribati’s Public Utilities Board (PUB). “For too long, Kiribati – as one of the most remote countries in the world – has been dependent on imported fuel. This is not only a massive burden on our finances, but has a negative impact on the environment around us,” said The Hon. Korabi Nenem, Vice President and Minister for Kiribati Ministry of Public Works and Utilities. “As a nation profoundly affected by the impacts of climate change due to the world’s over-reliance on fossil fuels, it is important for us to practice what we preach.” “These solar panels take advantage of our plentiful supply of sun, and will provide a more reliable and sustainable source of energy for the future of our nation.” Kiribati’s small size and remoteness makes it highly dependent on imports, and extremely vulnerable to any changes in global fuel prices. About half of all imported fuel in 2012 was used for electricity generation on the South Tarawa grid, servicing around 52,000 people. It is estimated the energy generated through these new solar panels will reduce diesel fuel use by 230,000 liters per year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 765 tons per year, and save the Government of Kiribati US$290,000. The 548kWp (kilowatt peak capacity) solar panels were fitted onto four buildings in South Tarawa – the Kiribati Institute of Technology, Betio Sports Complex, Tungaru Hospital and King George V Secondary School – with the latter two sites also requiring roofs to be replaced through the project in order for the panels to be secured. Energy generated from the solar panels will be fed directly into the South Tarawa grid system. “Shifting to solar energy in Kiribati is an important step for the government and people of Kiribati. These solar panels are contributing to electricity used by schools, hospitals and public buildings throughout South Tarawa; critical infrastructure that the Australian Government is proud to support,” said His Excellency Bruce Cowled, Australian High Commissioner for Kiribati. “We’re proud to support the Government of Kiribati with this important project; one that will reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and reduce expenditure on fuel,” said Kamleshwar Khelawan, Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank. “It’s an important milestone in our support to helping the Pacific Islands region shift to a sustainable, more cost-effective, fossil fuel-free future by building local capacity in the procurement, operations and maintenance of renewable energy systems.” Ending in 2018, the Kiribati Grid Connected Solar PV Project is coordinated by the World Bank and funded through a US$1 million grant from the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and a US$2.92 million grant from the Government of Australia, through the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility (PRIF). 
Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink: Adapting to life in climate change-hit Kiribati
March 21, 2017 - Tabonibara, Kiribati –Straddling the equator in the middle of the Central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati is made up of 33 coral atolls spread across 3.5 million km² (1.3 square miles) of ocean. Most of the islands are less than two kilometers wide and have an average height of 1.8 meters (6 feet) above sea level, making the country one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change and sea level rise. King tides can wash over entire islands, causing flooding for days and contaminating drinking water supplies for weeks and even months. Prolonged droughts, particularly during La Nina, can cause extreme water shortage, affecting agriculture and peoples’ general wellbeing. With the entire population and the majority of the infrastructure located on the coast, damage and coastal erosion from high tides, storm surges and strong winds is increasingly an issue. Ruteta, a mother of three living in Tabonibara village, North Tarawa, knows all too well the problems that contaminated well water can bring. “A few years ago our well water got really smelly. We worried about our children, because they had diarrhea after drinking the water we boiled from the affected well,” said Ruteta. North Tarawa, while still part of the main island of Kiribati, is only accessible by boat and remains largely subsistence-based, with residents gathering most of their food and water from their surroundings. Until recently, communities used ground water from wells for all their cooking, drinking and farming needs. While usually satisfactory after boiling, ground water can become contaminated by seawater during floods and king tides, making people – especially children – sick. Prolonged periods of drought, usually during La Nina years, often meant heavy rationing of water, impacting general wellbeing and agriculture. Infant mortality in Kiribati is the highest in the Pacific Islands, at 43 deaths per thousand live births and infantile diarrhea contributes to this high number. Through the Kiribati Adaptation Program, which is now in its third phase, rainwater harvesting systems have now been installed in Ruteta’s community, as well as in five other communities nearby. “Now that we have rainwater tanks our children have fallen ill much less so that makes us very happy. There’s a big difference in the quality of rainwater compared to well-water,” said Ruteta
Pacific Regional Connectivity Program Phase 4: Kiribati Connectivity Project
IDA Grant: US$20.0 million equivalent Project ID: P159632 Project Description: The objective of the project is to reduce the cost and increase the availability of Internet services in Kiribati.
Remote Pacific Regions set for Broadband Internet Under new World Bank Projects
$36m grants approved to bring broadband to Kiribati and Federated States of Micronesia   WASHINGTON D.C., May 31, 2017 –The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$36 million in grants to help provide reliable fiber optic broadband internet to approximately 80,000 people in Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The grants, including US$20 million for Kiribati and US$16.26 million for FSM, will finance the installation of a submarine cable system connecting Tarawa (Kiribati) to Nauru, and Kosrae state (FSM) to Pohnpei state (FSM), which is connected to global networks. The Asian Development Bank is preparing finance to support Nauru’s participation in the cable system. “We have already seen the benefits high-speed, reliable and affordable internet can bring to countries across the Pacific, and we look forward to working with Kiribati and Micronesia to bring faster and cheaper connectivity to the North Pacific,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “These connections will play a crucial role in linking families, creating economic and employment opportunities, reducing transaction costs, providing remote education and healthcare, and boosting national and international coordination.” The projects are part of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, which aims to bring more reliable and affordable internet to the majority of countries in the Pacific Islands. Kiribati and Micronesia are two of the world’s most remote island nations, covering six million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, making access to information, services and economic opportunities a massive challenge. In Kiribati, the internet capacity will be sold by the wholesaler on an open access basis to ensure equal access for all fixed and mobile networks operated by local retailers in Tarawa and nearby islands, accounting for more than two-thirds of the country’s population. A complementary project, supported by the World Bank, Australia and New Zealand will also help deliver mobile broadband services to more distant outer islands. “High-speed internet will connect Kiribati to the rest of the world, bringing new opportunities into our homes and offices and promoting overall economic integration. This is crucial for our development,” said Dr Teatao Tira, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication, Transport & Tourism, government of Kiribati. “The government has already taken important steps to reduce the cost and improve the quality of services and this cable will take those achievements to the next level.” In the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), both Yap and Chuuk states are already part of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program through the Palau-FSM Connectivity phase. The underwater cable systems for Yap and Chuuk states are set for installation late 2017 and are expected to be ready for service by early 2018. With this additional funding, all four states in Micronesia will have access to broadband internet. This accomplishment will complete a key objective of the FSM Government’s National Development Strategy, which aims to connect all four states to fiber optic cable systems to ensure equality of access. “Just a few short years ago, no one would have believed such a project was possible. Through vision, persistence and with the mutual support of our regional and donor partnerships we are now on the verge of achieving our dream of connecting our small island state communities to the world,” said Vice President Yosiwo P. George of the national government of the Federates States of Micronesia (FSM). “This project will provide all four states with access to good quality and affordable internet connections. We look forward to being able to overcome some of the challenges our remoteness creates.” In addition to laying the fiber optic cable, the grants will fund technical assistance provided to relevant government ministries and help develop the regulatory framework needed to promote competition and keep costs as low as possible for consumers. The US$36.26 million grants are provided through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for countries most in need. 
Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Workshop a Success
Third Regional Training Session Brings Together Pacific Education Experts PORT VILA, July 14, 2017 – More than 80 Pacific Islanders working in early childhood education and readiness came together this week in Port Vila, Vanuatu, to discuss best practice, and share experiences and responses to address the challenges commonly experienced in implementing, monitoring, and evaluating education programs and policies in the Pacific. The workshop was supported by the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program. Representatives from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Fiji were welcomed by the Vanuatu Minister of Education, Hon. Jean-Pierre Nirua, who spoke about the importance of early childhood readiness and the workshop’s contributions to it. “I wish to take this rare opportunity to commend and extend a profound gratitude with special acknowledgement to the World Bank for the strong interest and visible actions that the Bank has taken to support education; in particular the Global Partnership for Education for the financing of this workshop that is aimed at raising the level of consciousness and the importance on the need to raise and sustain competency levels in literacy for our children at young age for first internally or locally, before they venture out into the region and beyond to face the withstand sporadic challenges,” said Minister Nirua. The program included visits to local preschools and primary schools. Vanuatu has recently implemented a multi-lingual policy, which has seen a shift to using the common language spoken by children (i.e. a vernacular-language medium of instruction) for years 1-3, before introducing a second or third language. Multi-lingual teaching is a common challenge for many Pacific Island countries, so exploring different options for educating in multi-lingual environments was seen as a particularly welcome part of the workshop for many participants. “This workshop was a great opportunity to hear from others in the region, and for all participants to see first-hand early childhood care in Vanuatu,” said Roy Obed, workshop participant and Director of Education and Services at the Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training. “We were able to learn about new initiatives taking place and I’m excited to take some of these ideas home with me.” The workshop also included sessions on community-based play activities and awareness raising about the importance of reading with children from an early age. Each country’s participants also worked through their own program objectives and outlined a plan for moving forward and introducing initiatives such as sounding out words, policy changes and promoting an increased focus on learning during a child’s first years of life. “Birth to 5 are some of the most important years of a child’s life. What happens then can influence a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development, and later on their learning outcomes, career prospects and life-span,” said Binh Vu, Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank. “PEARL works across the Pacific to share knowledge and support countries implement school readiness and early grade reading that works best in each country’s context.”    The PEARL program works with Pacific Island countries to improve child readiness and learning, as well as teacher training for the early years of school. In Tonga, the program is supporting communities to organize play-based activities so children are better prepared for school, while helping teachers improve the learning outcomes of their students in the first grades of primary education. Recently, an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging parents to spend 10 minutes each day reading with their very young children was rolled out across Tonga, which included a TV series and a song, Tu'o taha 'i he 'aho (Once a day). Radio talkback programs have had enthusiastic participation from parents and teachers, and nearly 80% of parents in the main islands of Tonga have engaged with the campaign. PEARL is funded by the Global Partnership for Education and implemented by the World Bank. PEARL has two key goals: to support children to develop key skills that will be useful at school, and to help more children learn to read and write well in their first years of primary school, which has knock-on effects throughout their education.
Five-Year Plan Highlights Opportunities and Risks for Nine Pacific Island Nations
World Bank Group outlines plan to take advantage of significant increase in financial support WASHINGTON D.C., February 28, 2017 – With an expected tripling of available funds to the Pacific Islands from the World Bank, a new partnership framework between the World Bank Group and nine Pacific Island countries focuses on how to work together to achieve transformative change in the coming five years, especially in key sectors such as climate change and disaster risk management, information and communication technology, aviation, fisheries, transport, and tourism. Discussed today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors following extensive collaboration between the World Bank Group and Pacific governments, the Regional Partnership Framework provides a roadmap for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (FSM), Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, and highlights both regional opportunities and country-specific action plans for the five years ahead. “This framework, the product of wide-ranging consultations with a range of stakeholders, brings together extensive knowledge and experience from across the Pacific to guide how the World Bank and Pacific governments can best work together over the next five years to have the most positive impact for the people of these nine extraordinary countries,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “The framework has been developed to allow each country to take advantage of regional opportunities, while being flexible enough to tailor activities that best suit each country’s own unique needs.” The majority of countries included in the framework are likely to have access to a tripling, and in some cases a quadrupling, of available financing through the World Bank in the coming years, as funds allocated to the Pacific through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) will increase to US$900 million during the IDA18 replenishment period, which runs from July 2017 to June 2020, compared with US$360 million for the previous three years. Given this significant increase and the World Bank Group’s planned staff increases in key Pacific Island countries, the framework comes at a crucial time, providing a clear guide for Pacific governments and the World Bank Group to ensure more investment in four priority areas: 1.     Maximizing economic opportunities, principally through fisheries, agriculture and tourism. 2.     Enhancing access to employment opportunities, particularly through labour mobility and tackling youth unemployment. Addressing gender-based violence will also form an important element of the engagement. 3.     Protecting sources of income and livelihoods by strengthening preparedness and resilience to natural disasters and climate change, as well as addressing non-communicable diseases. 4.     Strengthening the enablers of growth through improved macroeconomic management, increased access to basic services and addressing knowledge gaps. Tom Jacobs, Country Manager for the Pacific at the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private-sector lending arm, said despite the challenges, the private sector must play an increased role in supporting Pacific Island economies. “Through our advisory and investment activities, IFC will continue working actively to facilitate private sector engagement, mitigate the impact of commercial bank ‘de-risking’ and help clients take full advantage of opportunities to grow and create jobs,” said Jacobs. “We look forward to working with regional governments, private sector clients, colleagues at the World Bank and our development partners, including the Australian and New Zealand governments, to address the key challenges and maximize opportunities for the private sector under this new partnership framework.” Building on an already strong engagement with countries in the region, the framework is largely informed by lessons from implementing programs throughout the Pacific in the past decade, together with the 25-year future-focused Pacific Possible report and Systematic Country Diagnostic, the analysis of the key constraints and opportunities facing Pacific Island countries. The full Regional Partnership Framework for the PIC9 is available online here. For more information, please visit: www.worldbank.org/pacificislandsFacebook: www.facebook.com/worldbankpacificTwitter: www.twitter.com/wb_asiapacificYouTube: www.youtube.com/worldbank
Aboriginal teen flies flag on Everest
ABORIGINAL teen Sarafina Elliott made a life-changing journey to Mount Everest base camp, where she flew the Aboriginal flag.
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