19 Oct 2011

Tokelau hoping to downgrade its emergency status in near future

4:30 pm on 19 October 2011

The Tokelau government hopes the impending arrival in Tokelau of two additional water desalination units will allow it to downgrade a state of emergency.

Tokelau is in the grip of a drought after no significant rain for five months.

A desalination unit, producing 15,000 litres of fresh water a day, is in operation after arriving last week and will be backed up by two further units this weekend, lifting output to 35,000 litres per day.

Tokelau's general manager of public affairs, Joe Suveinakama, says, in addition, over 300,000 litres of water has been shipped to each village on the country's three atolls.

Mr Suveinakama says that amount is calculated to last three to four weeks and combined with the three desalination units, will hopefully resolve the situation they are in.

"And then hopefully we'll come to the stage where we have enough water that we move down the emergency level to one where water is still serious but we won't have the emergency situation going on any longer."

Joe Suveinakama.

He says the drought has created a greater appreciation on Tokelau of the importance of using water more thoughtfully.