8 Oct 2011

Hopes big water generator will be in place in drought hit Tuvalu mid next week

9:21 am on 8 October 2011

Officials are hoping a large New Zealand Army water desalination unit will be in operation on drought hit Funafuti in Tuvalu by the middle of next week.

A series of flights by New Zealand and Australian air force planes is transporting the unit to Funafuti via Samoa.

Two units sent earlier this week by the New Zealand government, and in operation on Funafuti, are producing a combined volume of 43,000 litres a day, but the more than 5,000 residents there need nearly 80,000 litres a day.

The machine will need to be re-assembled, and the New Zealand High Commissioner to Tuvalu, Gareth Smith, hopes that can be completed within several days.

"The critical situation that I described earlier in Nukulaelae, that's been addressed with the Tuvalu patrol boat has gone down, delivered the generator there, so there's 3 litres of water [produced per minute] pumping down there. Here of course [on Funafuti] there's water rationing but water is flowing to the people. It's nowhere near enough so that's why the plan has been put in place."