6 May 2013

Emergency assessment team says Marshalls drought severe

7:50 am on 6 May 2013

A drought assessment official says severe water shortages are affecting the Marshall Islands.

The Government National Water Advisor Tom Vance says people on the island of Mejit are among 3,700 people desperate for water.

Mr Vance says there has been scant rainfall this year and well water is turning salty and brackish, and unsafe to drink.

He says there are no other sources of fresh water on these islands and the situation is dire.

Several of the remote islands, including Mejit, have solar-powered reverse osmosis water-making equipment.

But Mr Vance says the units are small, producing no more than 300 gallons of water daily for island populations that in some places exceed five or six hundred people.

The United States has already provided seven reverse osmosis units, and has promised several more, while the Marshall Islands government is also turning to Australia for funding.