Business, Finance & Economics

Water emergency in drought-hit Tuvalu

The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency due to a severe shortage of fresh water in the capital Funafuti, as well as a number of outer islands.

Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world, with less than 11,000 people living on its low-lying coral atolls. Nearly half live on Funafuti.

The Associated Press said a New Zealand Air Force Hercules plane had been dispatched to Tuvalu, to deliver water supplies and two desalination units.

A team of Red Cross workers was also on board.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, said that two senior ministry officials had traveled to Tuvalu, and would remain there to assess the country's needs.

New Zealand will be working with partners and other donors to consider the best medium-to-long-term response options.

The Tuvalu Red Cross said water supplies in some parts of the country would run out on Tuesday, reported the BBC.

But residents have been warned against drinking water from wells. Secretary General Tataua Pefe told Radio Australia that some animals had recently died “and we think it's because of subterranean water".

Pefe said it had not rained properly in Tuvalu for more than six months, with the drought is forecast to continue until December.

Lack of rain in Tuvalu is being blamed on the La Nina weather phenomena, with the BBC reporting it is one of the world's countries most likely to be affected by climate change.