Lack of rain threatening food and water supply in Ha'apai
Tongan officials say the long-term food security and water supply of cyclone-hit Ha'apai could come under threat if there is no more rain before the dry season
Tongan health and agriculture officials say the long-term food security and water supply of cyclone-hit Ha'apai could come under threat if there is no more rain before the dry season begins in April.
Officials are working to provide relief following the storm that killed one person and injured 14 others, displaced more than half the population of 8,000, damaged power lines and buildings and wiped out food crops more than two weeks ago.
Mary Baines reports.
The Metservice director, Ofa Fa'anunu, says if more rain doesn't come in the next few months, Ha'apai could experience a severe water shortage.
"We require another month or two of consistent rainfall to be able to cover for that deficit of those eight months of drought last year. Even though our forecast for the next three months is for near average rainfall, the dry season will start around April and if we do not collect enough rainfall we could be looking at some water problems in Ha'apai."
The Ministry of Health inspector in charge of water, Folau Hola, says Ha'apai is already in urgent need of more clean water.
"Ha'apai needs something to be done, especially to operate the water level at the moment. The government has been trying their best to do whatever they can do, but we're still sending water just for drinking. Just enough for urgent purpose."
Folau Hola says because the main water reserve tank and all rooftop rainwater collection systems were destroyed during the storm, even if it does rain it is not being collected.
"Still there's nothing to collect rainwater, that's why it's still needs so much work. Use water as wisely as you can and please do share with your neighbours. And bear in mind, help is coming on its way."
The chief executive of the Agriculture Ministry, Losaline Ma'asi, says as 85 to 100 percent of food crops were flattened, it must come up with a detailed report of how to ensure long and medium-term food security.
"We have been looking at the land clearing which is a priority before we can do any planting. We have developed a detailed assessment form where we have a separate one for fisheries, for agriculture together with livestock and also forest, so they have conducted this detailed assessment last week and now they're putting together an analysis probably by the end of this week."
Losaline Ma'asi says while it will start clearing the land soon, without rain the planting of crops could be unsuccessful.
"If there will be some rain there then we will try to grow some of these crops, be able to have some food for Ha'apai. We will just keep our fingers crossed that there will be some rain before April."
Losaline Ma'asi says the Agriculture Ministry is looking to provide half an acre per household where communities can grow their own potato, corn and green vegetables. She says since the cyclone, locals have been eating a lot of noodles and canned meat which if continues, could become a health concern.
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