Above: The Scoping Team with CLGF Pacific Regional Director Ms. Karibaiti Taoaba and Mayor of Betio Urban Council, Mr. Romano Reo
As mentioned in the June Issue of the CLGF Pacific quarterly newsletter, a scoping mission to Kiribati was conducted in May 2013 to explore the potential of establishing a Good Practice Scheme partnership between the Hunter Group of Councils and councils in Kiribati.
Doris Hajszan an ICT Infrastructure Coordinator at Mt.Barker, who was part of the scoping team shares her experience of her time in Kiribati:
Most of our time we were based in South Tarawa, working with MISA (Ministry of Internal and Social Affairs) and meeting with the Urban Councils of Betio and Teinano, Kiribati Institute of Technology and Ministry of Communications.
South Tarawa consists of 3 small islands of Betio, Bairiki and Bikenibeu joined by causeways with a population of 50,000,there is only one bitumen road that runs the length of South Tarawa and land is an absolute premium here! The remaining population of 50,000 are dispersed across another 20 islands, predominantly in the eastern Gilbert island group.
The lack of qualified IT technicians is an issue across the Pacific in general but particularly so in Kiribati. Cloud technology is a platform that would enable moving well-structured LG financial systems and business processes into an electronic format and providing an information sharing portal across 3 urban and 20 rural councils.
The highlight of the trip was Amina’s adventure for us over the weekend. Late Friday afternoon we headed north and after a short canoe trip across to Abatoa Island we quickly found ourselves in a rural island setting. We stayed in traditional native huts at TabonTeKeekee, and were treated to beautiful fresh local foods and a beautiful island paradise to relax in and experience.
On Saturday the adventure continued with Amina, Peter and myself walking an hour north to Broken Bridge Picnic ground and retreat (and yes the place name is descriptive!), whilst Roger and the others came by boat. Soon Amina, Peter, Roger and myself then continued on by boat an hour further north to visit the North Tarawa rural council. The environment and issues council faces in the rural setting were completely different to those of the urban councils and it was important to see and have this experience.
The people are relaxed and happy and I felt very safe at all times. It was an amazing experience!
Building on the success of the Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme (CLGGPS) currently in PNG, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF Pacific) and Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA National) are working together to expand the GPS into the Pacific.
In 2011, LGMA submitted a proposal for the expansion of the GPS to members of the Pacific Capital Cities Forum under the AusAID Public Sector Linkages Program. Based on feedback from AusAID, this was revised to focus specifically on Kiribati.
The aim of the Kiribati GPS (K-GPS) program was to establish and build on the partnership between Australia and Kiribati for the purpose of increasing local government capacity across the 3 urban and 20 island local governments in a phased and regional approach. The Program proposed to run for three years (2013 to 2015) with a budget of around AUD$3million.
Unfortunately, due to Australia Government Funding cuts, the program was not approved. CLGF Pacific has since allocated regional program budget to initiating the program in 2013.
In May 2013, a team from Kiribati including the Director for Local Government (Ms Amina Uriam) and Town Clerk of Teinainano Urban Council (Ms Tekotaake Keariki) met with the Hunter Group of Councils and Local Government Training Institute to initiate discussions around a potential partnership.
This week (June 10th), the Hunter Group of Councils (Australia) will be undertaking a scoping mission to Kiribati to explore the possibility of establishing a twinning partnership with key Kiribati Local Government Sector partners in particular the Betio Town Council and Teinainano Urban Council. The mission will provide an opportunity for the key partners to meet, identify issues and priorities and develop an agreed partnership approach. Some of the priority areas for capacity support include strategic planning, waste management, financial management and sustainability. Aprat from these two urban councils, the team will also meet with a number of stakeholders including the Ministry of Internal and Social Affairs (MISA), the Kiribati Local Government Association (KiLGA) and the Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT).
Other aspects of the mission will include scoping the training needs of the Kiribati local government sector as well as investigating ICT capacities in terms of infrastructure, providers and access to different forms of information technology to better improve communication and overall ICT capacity of local governments in Kiribati.
By Stephen Sykes and Wak Kewa
Partnerships that deliver on building a better future for Australia and developing countries took centre stage at the 2012 Sister cities conference in Devonport Tasmania in November with Mount Hagen in PNG and Orange in Australia keynote speakers.
Wak Kewa Deputy City Manager Mount Hagen City Council PNG and Stephen Sykes Orange City Council in Australia took the sister cities members on a journey spaning some 10 years outlining the outcomes of the CLGF and AusAid .
From an initial request from the Mount Hagen Urban Level Local Government MHULLG for support from its sister city Orange in planning and management; to the development of a new city plan for Mount Hagen and master plans that delivers infrastructure, the case study placed the benefit of such relationships in the spotlight.
Following a series of presentations the conference then focussed on the future of sister city relationships. The Sister Cities reflected on their original purpose which was to “promote world peace” and spent considerable time on the role that the Movement can play in foreign aid and support. The conference resolved to support partnering between Australian Councils and developing countries in the region with a view to improving regional capacity. Representatives of councils with partnerships in East Timor embraced possible capacity building arrangements similar to the good practice scheme operating in Papua New Guinea and proposed for Tuvalu.
Capacity building partnering is now firmly on the Australian Council agendas and regional relationships and cross partnering support with for example Japan and Australian sister cities and a third developing country is now also on the agenda.
The conference also hosts a youth conference that had a strong focus on international program opportunities.
Five Pacific local government practitioners were mobilized to participate in the Pacific Local Government Climate Change Fellowship (PLGCCF) Program (an LGMA and CLGF program aimed at knowledge exchange between Australian and Pacific local government climate change practitioners). The Fellows from Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu participated in work placements with Australian councils (Townsville City Council, Hunter Group of Councils) for a six week period ending with a presentation at the LGMA International Masterclass. All fellows identified the need for the establishment of more ‘technical twinning’ partnerships to support ongoing capacity building and the implementation of individual action plans. As a result of the PLGCCF program there exists interest by the Australian hosts to support the now returned Pacific fellows through a technical twinning partnership. There is a definite opportunity to use the fellowships to compliment the CCCI Program.
Top Photo: Representatives from Port Vila (Vanuatu) and Betio Town (Kiribati) Councils discuss with colleagues from the Hunter Group of Councils.
Bottom Photo: Uluao (Funafuti Town Council, Tuvalu) and Angela (NCDC-PNG) during a workshop with their mentors from Townsville City Council.