MAJURO HOUSING BOOM LEADS TO WATER SHORTAGE

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RMI capital lacks storage for limited supply

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 17, 2009) – Marshall Islands planners have raised concerns about an unanticipated housing explosion in the country’s capital and the lack of fresh water availability for more than a quarter of the population.

Five years ago, a government planning office survey found 1,700 houses in the two-mile-long-by-500-feet wide strip of islands that comprise the main urban center of Majuro.

A survey completed this week shows that number has skyrocketed to over 2,000 dwellings, a more than 30 percent increase.

But aside from the increasing urban crowding, planning office Director Carl Hacker is worried that a large number of these homes have no or little fresh water storage capacity.

Mr Hacker says this is critical on an island that depends nearly 100 percent on rain for its fresh water.

The government’s water company pumps water to urban residents only twice a week, eight hours each on Mondays and Fridays to conserve the limited amount of fresh water

supplies.

Mr Hacker says 548 of these urban homes, about one in four, do not have any kind of catchment tank or water storage capacity, and many more have inadequate storage for the average household size of eight.

Mr Hacker’s office is overseeing European Union funding for water improvements, including the provision of a supply of household water catchments that aims to alleviate some of the water storage problem.

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