The coral island atoll of Nauru has a population of 14,000 people and sits very close to the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The country has a 20 km2 land area with an exclusive economic zone of 308,502 km2. Nauru’s economy is based primarily on phosphate mining, but the global economic crisis seriously impacted this industry in 2009. The country is now heavily dependent upon the sale of fishing licences and foreign aid from countries like Australia.

In terms of hazard risk, Nauru’s position close to the equator means it is outside the area of frequent occurrence of cyclones. It is also within a very quiet area for seismic activity with a very small chance of earthquake impacts in the next 50 years. Nauru’s country risk profile by the World Bank found that “Nauru is expected to incur, on average, less than 2 thousand USD per year in losses due to earthquakes and tropical cyclones. In the next 50 years, Nauru has a 50% chance of experiencing no economic losses and no casualties, and a 10% chance of experiencing a loss exceeding 0.2 million USD and no casualties.”[1]

However, the impacts of climate variability, sea-level rise and warming, drought conditions during El Niño and out-of-season torrential rains during La Niña are increasing. Rising sea levels are causing costal erosion and salinity of groundwater. Long droughts are affecting fruit trees, coconut and breadfruit trees leading to low yields. Sedimentation and sea warming are badly affecting the health of corals and leading to losses in biodiversity. Mining activities on 70% of the island severely restrict agricultural activities. Land tenure is also sensitive and contentious. The country is becoming heavily reliant on importation of food to supply its population.

In recent years the Nauru Government enacted DRM legislation and drafted a national DRM plan. The DRM Act stipulates DRM to encompass natural, manmade and technological hazards.

[1] Country Risk Profile. 2011. World Bank.