The government is rationing families to two buckets of fresh water daily. Even so, the current drinkable water supply may run out within days.
The drying up of coconut, breadfruit and banana plantations – sources of food and income – and increased risk of water-borne diseases have deepened the crisis for the 11,000 residents.
Maina Talia, Tuvaluan participant at the Anglican Alliance’s Pacific Consultation, tells how difficult life has become and calls for ‘deep commitment and deep solutions that lead to action’. The capital, Funafuti, and the southern island of Nukulaelae are most affected, but “every living creature, including the plants and animals, are on the same boat.”
Drought in the Pacific region can be partly attributed to the La Niña weather phenomenon. Eastern Pacific waters have cooled, causing a cascade of changes in ocean temperatures and wind currents.
The Anglican Alliance is working with churches in the Pacific to meet the challenges wrought by climate change, who help local communities adapt and survive in an increasingly inhospitable environment.
Australia, New Zealand and the United States are responding to the current crisis, transporting desalination plants and providing fuel. The Red Cross and AusAID are delivering bottled water and sanitation supplies.
Tuvalu will also access a US$4 million grant from the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) fund. This is to build desalination plants and develop solar-power technology – long term measures to increase resilience and water security in Tuvalu.