Kam na bane ni mauri! Hello everyone!
My name is Jo Clapham. I currently work as an Animal Health Officer for the Agriculture and Livestock Division (ALD) of the Ministry for the Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) in Kiribati.
Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific, comprises 33 atolls (low-lying coral islands). It is one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels and with an increasingly dense population, water and food security are important and current issues.
ALD is responsible for domestic agriculture and animal health, assisting communities to develop model gardens, pig and poultry farms, and encouraging communities to eat freshly grown produce. I am working with local agricultural officers to help strengthen research skills, community education materials, and practical training in the health and welfare of livestock and domestic pets. So far I have learned that making some small changes to husbandry practices such as changing the material used for tethers from abrasive and constrictive materials like cord to something flat such as a folded up rice bag may be a way to improve welfare and production in the small subsistence farms that are common in Kiribati.
My role here is a capacity development one, as part of the Australian Volunteer for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government initiative. While here I am working closely with animal health and agricultural officers.
Temwanoku Laokim (on bike) is one of the Animal Health Officers I work with in Kiribati.
As the Australian Partner Organisation for this role, KYEEMA has been supporting me with emails, Skype calls and suggestions for potential contributions to MELAD work, and I’m very grateful for their support.
In the three months since I arrived on Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital atoll, I’ve got to know a number of i-Kiribati people, and really appreciate the ever present laughter and generosity that seem to be an important part of i-Kiribati culture. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year will bring both in the workplace and in getting to know Kiribati and its people better.