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TUVALU’S FUNAFUTI, NUKULAELAE, RATION BOTTLED WATER Red Cross delivers two-week supply amid severe drought

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 28, 2011) – The Red Cross says the atoll of Nukulaelae in Tuvalu is very low on fresh drinking water and has requested government assistance.

[PIR editor’s note: Nukulaelae is less than 80 miles southeast of Tuvalu's capital, Funafuti. 393 people were living on Nukulaelae, according to a 2002 census. A joint assessment mission was sent to Nukulaelae last week, where the team also delivered 11,000 litres of water to its more than 300 people residents that should last about two weeks.]

In an information bulletin, the Red Cross says 90 percent of the population of Nukulaelae is being rationed, with 40 liters [about 10 gallons] of water per family per day.

It says several people, including children, are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, and about 50 per cent of the people don’t boil their drinking water, despite awareness efforts to do so.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reports separately that the water shortage has also hit Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu.]

"They have declared a state of emergency for the next 14 days because there is a low level of water on Funafuti island as well."

The Red Cross says the availability of water seems to be critical, which is impacting the local crops including giant taro, bread fruits and coconuts.

It says the Public Works Department estimates that with the rationed amount, the community will have a minimum of about two weeks with the remaining water.

[PIR editor's note: Tuvalu has garnered much attention in recent years for ever-increasing struggles its citizens have faced battling climate change. According to one report, the highest point in the island nation is four-and-a-half meters above sea level. In 2007, rising tides had caused the abandonment of water wells and the flooding of houses in Tuvalu. In February 2011, the Asian Development Bank announced that, among the nations "most vulnerable to climate-change induced disasters," Tuvalu joined Kiribati and Papua New Guinea, and as a result, large-scale population dislocation and movement will occur in the future.]

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