18 Oct 2011

UNICEF NZ sending desalination unit to Tuvalu

4:10 pm on 18 October 2011

The children's charity UNICEF New Zealand is sending a solar-powered desalination unit to drought-stricken Tuvalu.

The unit, capable of producing 6,000 litres of drinking water a day, will allow the Nauti primary school in Funafuti to stay open and continue catering for its 600 students.

It will also provide for a health clinic on the country's largest island.

UNICEF's Hamish Lindsay says the unit, which is due to arrive on Sunday, could become a permanent fixture.

"As long as there is a need for water at the primary school and the health clinic. We foresee that will be at least a few months. I mean there will be a permanent need for something like that. There's an option of leaving the unit there permanently. That's being considered now as well."

Hamish Lindsay says all pre-schools on Funafuti are closed.

Unicef also says there is only a five to ten per cent probability of anything greater than light rainfall over the next eight days