25 Apr 2013

Drought emergency declared for Marshalls northern islands

7:34 am on 25 April 2013

The Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak has approved a declaration of drought emergency for the northern islands following a recommendation by the government's disaster preparedness committee.

The government's chief secretary Casten Nemra says this will free up funding for reverse osmosis units which will help to provide water in the short term.

He says the declaration means government officials will be dispatched to northern atolls that are complaining of drought to get a clear picture of the impact of the lack of rain on fresh water supplies, agriculture and other areas.

The northern islands, which have populations ranging from as few as 100 to over 500 people, depend almost entirely on rain for fresh water.

Most islands report that they have received only trace rainfall since the end of last year.

Casten Nemra says some of the reserve osmosis units sent to outer islands over the past six months are not producing water at the initial levels and need new filters and maintenance, which is expected to happen as a result of the new declaration.