15 Sep 2015

UN urges Pacific governments to prepare for El Niño's impact

7:37 pm on 15 September 2015

The United Nations is calling on Pacific governments to prepare for what could be the worst El Niño system to impact on the region.

The UN resident coordinator in Fiji, Osnat Lubrani, says it is expected to rival the 1997 El Niño which is the most severe on record.

Ms Lubrani says drought problems currently being experienced around parts of the region are just the beginning.

no caption

Photo: 123RF

She says governments need to start raising awareness in communities and preparing national emergency plans.

"It's also important, for example, for communities to think about what happens if a drought hits. How do you make special arrangements for schools to be kept open - if there are water shortages. At the National level, there's also the importance of preparing drought plans and certainly governments are already working on that but I think there's always more that can be done."

Ms Lubrani says the extreme drought and frost in Papua New Guinea could be a foreshadow of what's to come around the region.

Dry creek bed

Dry creek bed Photo: Supplied

The PNG Highlands area has been experiencing severe frosts and the worst drought in at least eighteen years.

"I think that what we see already in PNG, and there are already official drought warnings in Fiji and worries about water problems, or water delivery problems in Solomon Islands - there could be more problems to come. And it's not just drought, it's also cyclones that are associated with this phenomenon."