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Kiribati Solid Waste Management

Since 2011, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has funded two phases of support for solid waste management in Kiribati; however, a mid-term review had highlighted some challenges in the project. To have a third phase approved by its Minister, MFAT needed to rethink its project plan and MERL Framework.


What we did

Kirsty Burnett and Dr Fiona Kotvojs partnered with GHD Ltd to develop an Activity Design for the project’s third phase. We based the design work on Kiribati’s new solid waste management and resource recovery strategy and the actions set out under its strategic goals. We sought a shared understanding of the priority outcomes and actions at the outset. This was done by bringing relevant people together, convening workshops in-country led by i-Kiribati trained and supported by our team to encourage participants to be realistic, and injecting new ideas and energy into the consultations.

How we did it

The GHD team used a series of workshops with government, private sector, and community stakeholders to confirm what outcomes they considered the most important; and then envisage activities that could achieve these outcomes.


Green Bags: For rubbish in Kiribati

Rubbish is everyone’s problem, so the idea of involving the education system was supported. Waste management could be included in the curriculum; schools could provide and empty rubbish bins, use organic matter for school garden projects, and involve children in monitoring these activities, e.g. taking photos at set times and places to see progress, to see what effect their actions could have on the waste management problem in their communities.

Once MFAT had confirmed the availability of funding, and options report aligned to the strategy was completed. This aimed to clarify what ideas were ‘in’ and what was ‘out’. The final design document included a comprehensive theory of change discussed with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development based on the preferred options we’d agreed.

Benefit for partners (client)

The Activity Design with MERL Framework produced by our team was aligned with the Government of Kiribati’s strategy and the work of other development partners and firmly based on i-Kiribati priorities. The design addressed the issues that had been barriers to the success of the first two phases. It involved local stakeholders in the monitoring, which will likely increase accountability and local ownership.


What they said

Kirsty and Fiona’s familiarity with MFAT’s business processes (including the better business case framework) and on-the-ground knowledge of Kiribati ensured that our deliverables were practical and met the needs of the ultimate client, that is, the people of Kiribati. They pushed back on any unrealistic ‘ambition’ and kept the process and the result ‘honest’.

Sonia Chirgwin, Waste management specialist, Team Leader



Kiribati Solid Waste Management, phase 3: Activity Design and MERL Framework, 2021






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