Carly Learson is in the Pacific supporting UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, which seeks to ensure that women, girls and young people have access to essential services, with a special focus on areas impacted by the climate crisis. On a sandy islet engulfed by greenery, Esther lives under constant threat. But it’s not violence she’s most concerned about — it’s disease. Not coronavirus — Kiribati is one of the few countries without a single case. But the threat of disease hounds Betio, the most populated section of South Tarawa, an island in Kiribati, where there are around 15,000 inhabitants per square kilometre. To put it into perspective, that’s 2.5 times the density of Tokyo. “The beach used to be way back there — I don’t know how many houses have been lost but it’s a lot,” says Esther, who moved to Betio from a remote island with her family. Here, families live in open shacks on around four square metres of land, where the distance between houses is a matter of centimetres. These sorts of crowded conditions contribute to some of the worst health outcomes in the Pacific: tuberculosis and leprosy are rife in Betio, with thousands… Read full this story
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