23 Mar 2010

World Water Day highlights region's vulnerability

2:36 pm on 23 March 2010

A Pacific development organisation is using World Water Day to highlight the vulnerability of the region's water supply to natural disasters such as Cyclone Tomas.

The Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission or SOPAC says the impact of recent natural disasters on water in Fiji and Samoa, and outbreaks of typhoid in Fiji, and cholera in Papua New Guinea show that access to clean, safe water is a major issue in the region.

It says a report it produced with the World Health Organisation found that 6.7 million Pacific Islanders a year suffer from acute diarrhoea, resulting in 2800 deaths from the preventable disease.

SOPAC's water and sanitation manager, Marc Overmars, says water resources are fragile on the small Pacific Islands with limited storage

"The natural hazards that are occurring with a lot of frequency, and urbanisation is happening on such a small space, that actually the increased pollution from industry, but also from waste water and from agriculture is putting further pressure on the region's water resources."

Mark Overmars says World Water Day was marked on Monday in most Pacific countries, except Fiji where it will be held on Friday because of Cyclone Tomas.