Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world and consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls. The UN has classified Tuvalu as a Least Developed Country, due to its small size, almost total lack of exploitable resources, and vulnerability to environmental shocks.
Tuvalu faces a moderate degree of natural disaster risk, however even minor emergencies can overwhelm national capacity. Humanitarian impacts from climate-change related disasters are of increasing concern.
Rising sea levels due to climate change are a significant threat to the country’s islands with its highest point only 4-5 metres above sea level. In 2000, the government appealed to Australia and New Zealand to take in Tuvaluans if rising sea levels should make evacuation necessary.
In 1997, three tropical cyclones hit Tuvalu; Gavin and Hina in March, and Keli in June. The fragility of the island group was underscored when a damage assessment team estimated that approximately 6.7 per cent of Tuvalu’s total land mass had been washed away. Tuvalu also declared a national emergency in September 2011 due to severe drought. At the request of the government, OCHA deployed surge support in coordination and information management.
UN maintains a joint presence in Tuvalu with UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA working together on programmes with UNDP taking the lead.