Tuvalu Borrow Pits Rehabilitation Project

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Tuvalu, New Zealand

A significant investment in the rehabilitation of land for Tuvalu.

Tuvalu's main island, Funafuti, has gained an extra eight percent of usable land after the completion of a project to fill in the 'borrow pits' left behind after the Second World War. The area remediated represents eight percent of the land, which is a significant investment in rehabilitation of land for Tuvalu.

The rehabilitation project aims to improve the living standards of communities living in Funafuti by filling in borrow pits and improving water and sanitation services. It will also improve the island’s resilience to the impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels, flooding and storm damage.

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The project was complex because of its remote location, lack of resources, environmental concerns, multi-level development objectives, the possibility of finding unexploded ordinance from the war, land-ownership and cultural sensitivities.

Locally appropriate and sustainable design methods

Dredging within pristine coral environments is considered to be a high risk operation. Calibre Built Environment spent significant time planning and consulting to establish appropriate environmental and social management controls to create the most suitable low-impact design to dredge fill from the lagoon in a locally appropriate and sustainable way.

Enhancing living standards and resilience against effects of climate change

Filling the borrow pits has enhanced the living standards of the Funafuti community and reduced the risk of water-borne disease and mosquitos, significantly reducing the incidence of dengue fever and improving the overall health and well-being for those living in and around the pits.

The raised land levels provide increased resilience against the effects of climate change and sea level rise and provide additional land for building and other community recreational uses.

Recognised by industry for innovative thinking

The borrow pit project was recognised by Engineering New Zealand with a Gold Award and was described as an outstanding application of innovative thinking to develop solutions outside the box to help Tuvalu battle climate change and sea level rise, and prepare for an uncertain future.


Built Environment


2016 INNOVATE NZ Awards of Excellence – Gold Award


Peter Ollivier

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