23 Nov 2015

UN says El Niño getting worse in Pacific

6:04 pm on 23 November 2015

The United Nations says the El Niño in the Pacific is getting more severe, with at least 4.7 million people across 13 countries affected.

In its latest situation update, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says governments are trying to take measures to mitigate the risks of water shortages, food insecurity and disease.

Papua New Guinea Highlands affected by drought.

Papua New Guinea Highlands affected by drought. Photo: Supplied

It says the governments of Fiji and Vanuatu are delivering food and water to affected communities, while in Papua New Guinea, three million people are suffering from shortages in the Highlands.

In Solomon Islands, the island of Bellona is in a critical condition, with 100 percent of water tanks now empty, which has forced people to use coastal brackish water of questionable quality.

The UNOCHA says shortages have forced three schools to close, and police stations and hospitals are also struggling to operate.

The office also says between three and seven cyclones of category four or higher are forecast for this season.