Need water now: Australia sends desal plant to Tuvalu
The Federal Government is coming to the aid of one of our vulnerable Pacific neighbours struggling to cope with severe water shortages.
An Australian Air Force plane is on an urgent mission to Tuvalu to deliver a portable desalination plant.
The tiny Pacific nation is experiencing its second worst drought on record and supplies are desperately low.
The local people are getting by on a daily ration of just 40 litres of water per household. That compares with the recommended minimum of 25 litres per day for an individual.
Richard Marles is the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands and he says Australia is providing urgent assistance.
"We are hopeful that we'll be able to get, in combination with our friends in New Zealand, a portable desalination plant through to the main island today."
An RAAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft is due to leave Auckland with the equipment onboard today.
Water security is a constant struggle for Tuvalu. It has no rivers or dams and rises about 4m above sea level at its highest point.
"Most of the islands where you stand you can see water on both sides... we actually visited a town where, on the king tide, the water actually comes into people's living rooms - that's a regular event now," Mr Marles points out.
So what will happen in the future if sea levels rise and droughts intensify? Is the Australian Government preparing for a wave of climate change refugees from Tuvalu?
According to Richard Marles, "the priority, when you speak to people in these countries, is to do everything we can do now to make these islands habitable for a long time to come.
"And I think that can be achieved, but we do need to get global funds flowing to enable that to happen."
Source: By Jen Lacey - 10 October, 2011 - http://www.abc.net.au
Photo: A RAAF C-17A Globemaster III drops a pair of Container Delivery Systems (CDS) stores from its rear ramp over Londonderry Drop Zone (www.defence.gov.au)