The Kiribati Government has declared a State of Disaster for the entire country because of drought.
This follows increased salinity levels in the water sources and below-normal recent rainfall which is forecast to continue until the end of the year.
The disaster declaration allows the government to coordinate efforts involving various public bodies and international agencies and partners to get aid to those already being affected.
The Public Utilities Board is advising people to boil water or use bottled water.
The first international response has come from Australia providing 100 solar distillation units for the outer communities which will convert well water into safe drinking water.
The New Zealand Government said it is committed to providing long-term assistance for water security in South Tarawa, including the repair of critical water infrastructure.
The New Zealand High Commission in Tarawa is working with the Government of Kiribati and people on the ground to determine what additional support might be required.