Kiribati is made up of 33 islands, divided among three island groups, with a total population of 103,500 (2013 estimate). The capital on Tarawa atoll has 47% of the population. With an average of 8,000 people per km2, these islands are amongst the most densely populated areas on earth. Only 18% of the population is permanently employed. A household census of Betio and Bairiki villages in November 2009 found that per capita income for 70% of the residents was less than USD1.75/day.

Worldwide, Kiribati is well known for its vocal stance against climate change. A sea-level rise of more than 7.5 cm since 1990 is slowly affecting the country’s landmass. The government has already purchased land in Fiji for residents who may be forced to leave due to the impacts of climate change.

Many of the risks to which Kiribati is exposed are related to climate change, including coastal erosion, inundation, increased salination, inadequate water supplies and waste disposal. The social and economic ramifications of these and many other hazards are multiplied when overlaid with the high levels of vulnerability of people due to the lack of infrastructure, low human development indicators, and high population growth rate.

Early in 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam caused extensive damage to parts of the country. The cyclone reached category 5 status on 12 March, and struck the low-lying atolls of Kiribati on 13 March as winds peaked at 250 km/h accompanied by destructive waves and floods. A preliminary damage assessment done by the Kiribati Government found the southernmost islands of the Gilbert group (Tamana and Arorae) to be the most affected by the cyclone. BSRP is working with the Kiribati Agriculture Department to undertake assessments of damage caused to the agriculture sector and to provide disaster relief for the agriculture sector on the most affected islands.