26 Aug 2015

Fiji government prepares for worst as El Niño takes hold

3:22 pm on 26 August 2015

The Fiji government is preparing for the worst as a prolonged dry spell is predicted to continue for at least a couple of months.

The Disaster Management Minister Inia Seruiratu says hundreds of thousands of litres of water has already been sent to parts of the Western Division, including the outer islands.

Over 30,000 people are adversely affected by the lack of rain but Mr Seruiratu says no official drought declaration has yet been made.

He says the Ministry has already spent its budget of over US$162,000 for the provision of emergency water.

Mr Seruiratu says an additional US$220,000 has been made available because the situation is expected to get worse.

"The predictions from the weather office, (are), that the period from September to October will be probably the worst and there are possibilities that we can continue into January / February next year. Again, those are predictions but we are preparing for worst case scenarios."

The entire Pacific region is preparing for what climate forecasters say could be one of the worst El Niño events since the late 1990s, with ocean temperatures already 3-5°c above normal.

Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga are currently affected by drought, with many farmers losing crops and water supplies drying out.

The El Niño pattern is predicted to last well into next year.