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Marshall Islands residents fear running out of water again

Friday September 6, 2013 - 13:01 EST
Audience submitted image
People in the northern atolls of the Marshall Islands are worried about running out of drinking water again in the wake of this year's devastating drought. - Audience submitted

People in the northern atolls of the Marshall Islands are worried about running out of drinking water again in the wake of this year's devastating drought.

In April the Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency because of the severe drought conditions that were affecting a number of atolls.

That state of emergency was extended to about 15 atolls in the northern areas of the Marshall Islands.

The Red Cross says people on Namu atoll have told them drought will return and again threaten their livelihoods and drinking water.

Red Cross operations co-ordinator in Marshall Islands, Victoria Bannon, says there's an urgent need for risk reduction programmes to help hazard-prone communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Ms Bannon told that from the very first declaration the Red Cross was supporting efforts to provide safe drinking water to affected communities.

"In particular, through the use of reverse osmosmis units, because we were finding that communities had literally or were running out of water supplies," she said.

"Their crops were dying, they were really struggling to have sufficient food and to have enough water for not only drinking but also for hygiene purposes."

Ms Bannon says reverse osmosis units are not the only solution to getting fresh drinking water to drought affected communities.

"One of the issues the Red Cross and other partners have been looking into is the situation of rainwater catchment because in the Pacific and in the Marshall Islands we really need to be making the most of household and community catchment facilities," she said.

"That's tanks, that's guttering to make sure that when the rains are here we are able to store sufficient quantities to see through dry periods, including periods of more intensive drought like the ones we've just seen."

This week Marshall Islands hosted the 44th Pacific Islands Forum, where climate change adaptation was high on the agenda.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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