Business, Finance & Economics

Second Pacific island declares water emergency


King tides in the South Pacific swallow the coastline of Funafuti Atoll, 19 February 2004, home to nearly half of Tuvalu's entire population of 11,500.



A second island community in the South Pacific has declared a state of emergency due to a severe shortage of fresh water.

Tokelau declared a state of emergency late on Monday, following in the footsteps of the island nation of Tuvalu, which the BBC says has been rationing water.

Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, which consists of three islands, is reported to be relying on bottled water left.

Its population of 1,400 is said to have less than a week's supply of drinking water left, while the Tuvaluan atoll of Funafuti, where 5,000 people live, will run out in two weeks.

The states of emergency in Tuvalu and Tokelau come after six months of little or no rainfall, which is being blamed on the El Nina weather phenomenon.

Jo Suveinakama, the general manager of the Tokelau government told Radio New Zealand.

We are all working in line with the fact that we recognize this national emergency situation.

The Associated Press on Monday aid 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.

CNN reported that emergency desalinators were on Tuesday night sent to the Tuvaluan atoll of Nukulaelae, whose population of 330 is down to its last 60 liters of water.

Parts of neighboring Samoa have also begun rationing water.