Kiribati comprises 32 low-lying atolls and the island of Banaba containing approximately 120,000 citizens spread over 21 islands.
Apart from Banaba, the atolls belong to three groups of islands—the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line Islands—which are spread over 3.5 million km2 of the Pacific Ocean. The atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, which lies about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, is the capital. Half of Kiribati’s population lives in South Tarawa.
Geographic remoteness and a weak business climate have kept the private sector small, and most Kiribati workers who work in the formal sector are employed by the government or state-owned enterprises.
Kiribati’s geography has led to a divergence in economic development between South Tarawa, where a cash economy prevails and the population depends on formal employment, and the outer islands, where much of the population is involved in a subsistence economy centered around fishing and agriculture. Youth under 25 years old comprise more than half of the population, and they face challenges in the labor market, with over 50 percent of youth unemployed.
The Government of Kiribati in partnership with MCC, elected to focus program investments to address Kiribati’s low participation in international labor mobility opportunities as a vital part of efforts to address the country’s critical employment problem.
Kiribati has a limited domestic labor market and I-Kiribati are eager to secure skills and experience required to find work in the Pacific region and domestically. The MCC-Kiribati Threshold Program aims to assist the Government of Kiribati address the constraint to economic growth of disproportionately low participation of Kiribati workers in the international labor economy. The program is designed to:
- provide “facilitated governance reform” support to the Ministry of Employment and Human Resource (MEHR) to enhance its ability to promote decent and inclusive employment for the people of Kiribati;
- work with MEHR to address worker protection risks and related family resilience for I-Kiribati working overseas;
- provide experiential growth opportunities for Kiribati high school students to improve fundamental employment-related skills.
Milestones in Threshold Program Development
|Board Approval||June 28, 2023||
In June 2023, the MCC Board of Directors approved a $29.1 million grant for the Kiribati Threshold Program.
|Eligibility Notification||December 8, 2022||
In December 2022, the MCC Board of Directors reselected Kiribati as eligible to develop a threshold program.
|Eligibility Notification||December 14, 2021||
In December 2021, the MCC Board of Directors reselected Kiribati as eligible to develop a threshold program.
|Eligibility Notification||December 15, 2020||
In December 2020, the MCC Board of Directors selected Kiribati as eligible to develop a threshold program.