21 May 2009

Pacific leaders praise Japan's aid programmes

3:32 pm on 21 May 2009

The leaders of small Pacific Island countries have heaped praise on Japan's aid programme and asked for more as the fifth Pacific Area Leaders Meeting, or PALM, gears up for its official opening in Hokkaido tomorrow night.

They say increasingly extreme droughts and sea water inundation on low islands are causing hardships for islanders across the region.

The leaders say delivering safe fresh water is an increasing problem for their resource-poor governments, and have called on Japan to continue to play a leading role in funding programmes to stabilise sanitation systems and fresh water capacity in the islands.

Kiribati's President, Anote Tong, says a 16-month drought in Kiribati has forced his government to deliver drinking water by ship to remote islands that depend on rain for fresh water.

The Federated States of Micronesia President, Emanuel Mori, says meagre resources and vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters complicate the ability of his government to provide adequate fresh water to its dispersed population.

The President of the Marshall Islands, Litokwa Tomeing, says its ability to provide drinking water and adequate sanitation is constrained by a lack of money, skills and transfer of technology.