9 May 2013

Aid agencies rush help to drought stricken Marshall Islands

10:19 am on 9 May 2013

Thousands of gallons of drinking water and solar-powered water-making units are being rushed to drought-stricken populations in the Marshall Islands.

The National Water Advisor Tom Vance, following a trip to Mejit Island, says there 3,700 people without drinking water there.

Earlier this week, the United States and Australian governments announced 100,000 US dollars emergency aid grants as Marshall Islands officials elevated a drought emergency to a drought disaster.

With almost no rainfall since late last year on islands above eight degrees north of the equator, most have run out of drinking water and ground well water has turned salty and brackish.

Health officials who tested the wells say they are unsafe to drink.

Tom Vance says drinking coconuts offer some relief, but there are no other sources of fresh water on these islands besides rain and the situation is dire.

Four new reverse osmosis water-making units provided by the U.S. government are expected to arrive later this week for installation on northern islands.

More reverse osmosis units are expected to be purchased and flown in to provide water relief.