This fragility assessment of South Tarawa in Kiribati explores patterns of fragility related to urban development including delivery of critical urban services with focus on water and sanitation services. The assessment’s key objectives are to determine and better understand the patterns of fragility and resilience created by state–society relationships, as they relate to the delivery of urban services in South Tarawa, and to identify means of overcoming fragility to improve the quality of urban life in the community.
Throughout this paper, the authors have taken a regional approach, pioneered by Weisler (1996), that allowed them to understand the contrasting settlement patterns on two adjacent “mystery islands”. In their view, wet Tabuaeran was the primary locus of settlement, with dry Kiritimati acting as a peripheral base for specialized activities. This analysis challenges the prevailing “mystery island” paradigm which focuses on resource scarcity and isolation.