14 May 2013

Crops fail in Marshalls as drought continues

11:16 am on 14 May 2013

Crops are failing in the Marshall Islands as the drought continues and water supplies on the islands have gradually depleted.

Last week the Marshall Islands declared a state of national disaster due to the extended drought.

The New Zealand Red Cross says current assessments indicate between 3,700 and 5,000 people are severely affected by the drought, and a further 11,000 people are affected by crop loss.

It's International Operations manager, Glenn Rose, says minimum water requirements per person are four litres of water a day, but some families are surviving on just one litre per person.

He says it is a potential humanitarian crisis due to the loss of both water and food.

"Crop failures with breadfruit and coconut trees dying, banana and taro crops have failed, and this puts extra pressure on those communities to survive, we're trying to prevent this crisis getting any worse."

Glenn Rose says as well as providing water relief with desalination units the team will also develop water usage and hygiene plans in consultation with local communities.