SOLYMONE BLOG

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ISLANDS


Water supplies will have to be brought to Tokelau by barge from ships anchored offshore.
NUKUNONU, Tokelau - A New Zealand-administered territory of three islands, Tokelau's 1,400 people have less than a week's drinking water left. The lack of rainfall is blamed on the La Nina weather pattern.
Late Monday, Tokelau declared a state of emergency, following a similar move in neighbouring Tuvalu, where water is already being rationed. Officials said Tokelau had run out of natural fresh water and was relying solely on bottled water.
  • New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully (right photo) said other islands in the South Pacific were also reporting water shortages He said New Zealand was rushing to assess the situation throughout the region, amid fears the crisis could escalate.
  • A New Zealand Air Force plane landed in Tuvalu on Monday carrying containers of water and desalination units.
  • Tuvalu, one of the world's smallest independent nations, with a population of about 11,000, lies about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Tokelau is about 500km (310 miles) to the east.
  • Mr McCully said the situation was urgent in parts of Tuvalu. He said there was less than a week's supply of drinking water and food shortage on Funafuti, the main island of Tuvalu.
  • La Nina causes extreme weather, including both drought and floods, and was blamed for floods in Australia, South East Asia and South America in late 2010 and early 2011.
David Hebblethwaite (left photo), a water conservation expert with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said Tuvalu had experienced low rainfall for the past three years and there had been no precipitation at all for seven months.
Hebblethwaite said Funafuti and Nukulaelae both lacked groundwater supplies, making them dependent on rainfall collected from the roofs of homes and government buildings.
Mr Hebblethwaite said the islands may also need extra medical supplies if water shortages lead to sanitation issues and consequent health problems.
Source: AFP, Agency
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