A total of 682 households with a population of 3,689 (Census 2010), residing in 12 villages are now open defecation free. Tabiteuea North is the sixth and latest Island in Kiribati to be declared open defecation free (ODF) – thanks to the initiatives of the “Kiriwatsan I Project” which is led by Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU) with technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and funded by the European Union (EU).
The Honourable Minister for Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU), Mr. Waysang Kumkee said, “This is a tremendous achievement for the people of Tabiteuea North island, who practiced open defecation and stopped by constructing their own toilets using local materials and using them.”
The Mayor of Tabiteuea North Island, Mr. Tabukirake Bwaraniko stated that “the Communities of Tabiteuea North feel proud to declare our island ODF ensuring that all villages/ households construct their toilets.”
Takeimoa Tekewa who resides on Aiwa islet of Tabiteuea North said “Now I have my own toilet it has changed my life, now I do not have to go to defecate on the beach or in the bushes because this will also affect the health of my family, my daughter and my communities of Tabiteuea North Island. I feel very shameful why this simple work years after years we didn’t think of it and we were living in risky environment and we and our children were suffering “.
In Kiribati up to 70 percent of the people in many villages are practicing open defecation. The people of Tabiteuea North island can now look forward to a significant reduction in diarrheal diseases and lower infant and under five mortality rates as a result of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) initiatives of the KIRIWATSAN I Project. The KIRIWATSAN project team has also been working with communities, Island councils, Government and other partners to achieve ODF status in 16 outer islands.
Prior to being ODF, approximately 56.9% (in a few communities even over 80%) of the population on Tabiteuea North openly defecated. During September 18 – October 02, 2013 all communities were mobilized and under the leadership of the Mayor, the Island council members worked and achieved the Open Defecation Free status. Through the CLTS approach communities are mobilized, tasked to analyze their own situation, whereby they realize they must stop open defecation.
His Excellency, the President of Kiribati, Mr. Anote Tong has urged MPWU to work closely with other Ministries in order to ensure that the Republic of Kiribati obtains ODF status by end of December, 2015. This is to ensure that Kiribati reaches the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #7 Target 10 which is to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”.
The celebration on Tabiteuea North Island was led by Hon. Minister, Mr. Waysang Kumkee, Ministry of public Works & Utilities and Hon. Minister, Mrs. Maere Tekanene, Ministry of Education, senior government officials and distinguished guests, the Mayor of Tabiteuea North island, representatives from the KIRIWATSAN I project and community members.