Pacific Islands: emergency response to water crisis

13 October, 2011
Islanders in Tuvalu on the daily trek to get water. Credit: Tuvalu High Commissioner in Suva, H.E. Aunese Makoi Simati
Islanders in Tuvalu on the daily trek to get water. Credit: Tuvalu High Commissioner in Suva, H.E. Aunese Makoi Simati

OCHA is coordinating international relief efforts to urgently supply water, sanitation and healthcare to Tuvalu and Tokelau, amid fears that both Pacific islands are running out of water.

Tokelau and Tuvalu have recently declared a state of emergency, following months of severe drought. Approximately 12,000 thousand people have not got access to enough water, and face growing health risks – as well as increasing uncertainty about their long-term future. The drought conditions are expected to last into December.

UNICEF, WHO, the Red Cross and other partners are helping Australia and New Zealand provide desalination units, spare parts, fuel, transport and health services. In the longer-term, OCHA is calling on Pacific Island governments, as well as donors, to support a more comprehensive approach to drought management and better early warning systems. Responding to emergencies in Pacific islands is particularly challenging, making effective preparedness all the more important.

The crisis has prompted a global response, with the UK, France, Japan, USA, Australia and New Zealand offering financial support and essential equipment to help people survive the coming months.

It has also highlighted a growing concern that life will become increasingly difficult for people living in small island states, as climate change, disasters, population pressures, food and economic crises impact on daily life.

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