7 May 2013

State of disaster after extended drought in Marshall Islands

3:09 pm on 7 May 2013

A state of disaster has now been declared in the Marshall Islands as a prolonged severe drought in the far north islands worsens, putting lives at risk.

The move elevates a state of emergency that has been in place since April the 19th, and comes after some islands have not had any rainfall since November last year.

The chief secretary for the Marshall Islands government says reverse osmosis water machines are providing some drinking water for households but it's not enough.

Casten Nemra says outside help is starting to come through allowing the government to send more ships with essential supplies such as food and bottled water, but what is needed most is rain.

"Our Cabinet has declared a state of disaster, which basically means we've elevated the situation and this is at the point where life is imminent to threat, and we are doing all we can to address and cope with the situation now at hand."

Casten Nemra says the drought has affected many crops with many people just surviving on coconuts.