Drought Hits Crisis Level in Pacific Islands

Little or no rain in six months on Tuvalu, Tokelau
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2011 5:46 AM CDT
Drought Hits Crisis Level in Pacific Islands
Funafuti Atoll is home to nearly half of Tuvalu's population of 11,500.   (Getty Images)

Some island groups in the South Pacific, already in danger of being swamped by rising seas, have run out of fresh water. Tuvalu and Tokelau have declared states of emergency because of the water crisis, caused by six months of low or no rainfall and by groundwater becoming contaminated with seawater, the BBC reports. New Zealand's air force has rushed bottled water and desalination machines to the areas most in need.

In Tuvalu, a nation of atolls that is home to around 11,000 people, the situation is "quite dire," a Red Cross team leader says. The crisis is spreading, with Samoa now rationing water, and experts believe that because of La Niña, the region won't see any rainfall until at least until the end of the year. The water crisis is expected to trickle down into food shortages, and sanitation and public health problems, the AP reports, and officials say the future of the island nations is looking increasingly uncertain. (More Tuvalu stories.)

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