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Emergency response to worsening water shortage

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 3, 2011) – The New Zealand foreign minister says a warning from Tuvalu that current water shortages could become serious quickly prompted the Defense Force to dispatch a Hercules today.

The aircraft arrived in Tuvalu this afternoon to deliver two desalination units, water containers and personnel after the island nation last week declared a state of emergency due to severe water shortages.

The minister, Murray McCully, says a decision was made at the weekend to send the Hercules, after a message was received that some places were down to two days of water.

"The team obviously is being led by the High Commissioner Gareth Smith, who will be spending some time conducting meetings with members of the government there. But most importantly, he’ll be viewing with the donors meetings in which there’ll be an attempt to get a joint assessment of how critical the problem is, [and] whether [or not] the equipment that’s on the ground at the moment is capable of solving the problem."

Murray McCully says New Zealand is also keeping an eye on other island areas which are facing water shortages, including Tokelau.

[PIR editor's note: Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati were ranked in an Asian Development Bank study as some of the most susceptible countries to climate-change disasters in the Pacific region. In July 2011, water management experts called for international support from larger nations for water shortages and other issues being faced by countries like Tuvalu.]

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