20 Oct 2011

Prolonged drought reversing development gains in Tuvalu

7:02 am on 20 October 2011

A member of the New Zealand Aid team working in Tuvalu says the prolonged drought is reversing gains made in recent development of the country.

Months of dry conditions forced Tuvalu to declare a state of emergency last month and New Zealand is one of the donor partners supporting the country, initially providing water desalination units.

Development manager with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Willy Morrell, has been in Tuvalu for the last eight days and says the situation is fragile despite 50 millimetres of rain overnight.

Mr Morrell says subsistence farmers in outer islands are being forced to import food.

He says that cost is hindering their ability to improve on their subsistence way of life.

"These things tend to snowball and one thing leads to another and all of a sudden the life as we know in Tuvalu has changed. And sometimes it takes time to recoup to where we were a year ago or even four months ago before this drought really started to impact Tuvalu."

Willy Morrell says some more rain is forecast periodically over this week but then a return to dry conditions is expected.