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 March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam impact was also felt in Tuvalu. According to the NDMO, 71 families in Nui Island (40% of the population) were displaced and 76 families in Nukufetau (13 percent of the population) were also displaced. Power and inter island communication was a key challenge. The country also declared a state of emergency which ended on 27 March 2015. The capital Funafuti escaped major damage from TC Pam. OCHA OP also deployment an information management personnel to support the NDMO.
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.
UNOCHA and UNDP on behalf of the Pacific Humanitarian Team, is supporting the Government of Tuvalu in the development of the country preparedness package (CPP) with a recent joint CPP joint mission conducted in November 2017.
UN maintains a joint presence office in Tuvalu with UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA working together on programmes with UNDP taking the lead.