Pacific nation may exhaust water supply by Tuesday
The Pacific nation of Tuvalu is made up of a string of coral atolls and has few natural resources.
October 3rd, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Pacific nation may exhaust water supply by Tuesday

The small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency because of a shortage of rain and says it may run out of water by Tuesday.

Tataua Pefe, the secretary-general of Tuvalu’s Red Cross, said that because of the lack of rainfall, residents would likely "be finishing up their rationed water," according to an interview with Radio Australia.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his country was rushing to help as best it could, sending in defense force personnel to help with the crisis as well as delivering Red Cross supplies.

“Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency relating to water shortages in the capital, Funafuti, and a number of outer islands,” McCully said in a statement on the New Zealand Foreign Ministry site. “Two Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff on board, including our Wellington-based High Commissioner, will remain in Tuvalu to help assess needs on the ground."

Pefe said the situation has become dire after six or seven months without adequate or sustained rainfall.  He said that forecasts suggest that Tuvalu and other Pacific islands will not receive "decent" amounts of rain until perhaps December.

"We need emergency support," Pefe said.

Pefe said that residents should not drink well water because it may not be safe. Some animals that have been drinking well water suddenly died, he said.

Pefe said he and others were working to try to find long-term solutions to sustain the group of islands during the coming months. He said they will be relying on the help of other nations.

McCully said New Zealand will continue to work "with partners and other donors to consider the best medium-to-long-term response options.”

Tuvalu has a population of less than 11,000 and "consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil," according to the CIA's World Factbook. "The country has no known mineral resources and few exports and is almost entirely dependent upon imported food and fuel."

soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    I agree with Dan.
    This was the *exact* same thing I thought when I read the article.
    Why can't they boil the well water?
    I'm just curious...

    October 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • sherman

      When you boil salty water, you get hot salty water. You can't boil the salt away.

      October 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      But you can distill it. Boil the water off to steam, the salt stays behind, fresh water recondenses from the steam.

      October 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snap

      article did not say well water was 'salty'. Just that some animals had died after drinking it.

      Surely one can tell by tasting if the well water is salty. And is not there a doctor or clinic or some type of medical facility on the island or close to the island that can test the water and determine the safety of the water.

      Maybe, just maybe this island is not meant to sustain human life.....................

      October 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack69

      Well, better than boiling water, why not think about going forward?!! What they need is a desalination plant to turn sea water into fresh water and YES such a plant does exist and it is in use in a number o fcountires such as the island of Cyprus, Tampa Bay, Florida and a few more... I wonder if they have enough dams as well to collect enough rain water WHEN it rains!!

      October 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shanice

    Emma what does being Muslim got to do with anything. Grow up. The island should look at different forms of technology where you can turn the beach water into drinking water

    October 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dan

    They're an island in the pacific ocean for pete's sake. The problem isn't lack of water – the problem is the lack of DRINKING water. Sounds like they need a reverse osmosis desalinization plant.

    October 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muldoon

      Or get off the island

      October 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad-ash

      Doesn't sound like a place humans should be living...they relying solely on imports for food. No minerals...um LEAVE and leave soon.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Ya we have arab nations draining the great lakes one boatload at a time As for running out of water the earth has the same amount of water now as the begginning of time

    October 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. God

    Fear not. I will send an iceberg. Just let me warm things up a bit more, so the ice caps will melt and crack some more.

    October 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack69

      Dear GOD, please make sure you don't screw up the coordinates.. We wouldn't want to send that ice-berg in th ewrong direction 😉

      October 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. allanhowls

    The problem with desalination is that it is extremely expensive and highly inefficient. I would not be surprised if, especially considering the overall low population, that it would not be cheaper to import water than to desalinate it, given today's technologies.

    So, I guess .TV is about to become a vast wasteland? (look it up)

    October 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hello?!

    Umm... just wondering why anyone, regardless of being in the middle of the ocean, or in the middle of a desert, would stay when there are Obviously no resources to support Human Life ??? Since when does a Beautiful place to live trump actually living?

    October 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • deathwombat

      I don't know about you, but my home town is the greatest town in the world (even though it's not). Tuvalu is their home, their world, the only life they've ever known. So that's reason #1.

      Reason #2 is that they can't afford to leave. When you live on an island that has nothing, you have nothing. Occasionally magical wish granting fairies show up and give people money with which to start a new life in another country, but those happy occasions are few and far between.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. petercha

    We should help them get past this shortage. Help those who want to relocate to a more water secure area, too. But a permanent solution needs to be arrived at, such as a desalinization plant of some kind.

    October 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr Know It All

    Boiling the well water will kill any deadly bacteria or viruses. They are also SURROUNDED by water and could boil that, so they could collect the condensation which is drinkable. I'm judging by the picture that they aren't that technologically advanced. Maybe we could send them some science and math books too.

    October 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralf The Dog

      Distilling water needs energy. Lots of it to give you enough water to run a small country.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • deathwombat

      Yes, clearly that's the inhabited part of Tuvalu. The people of Tuvalu live in the trees, but they don't even cut them down to create houses or light fires. Actually, a few of the trees in those pictures are people! The people of Tuvalu are descended from the Ents, made famous by J.R.R. Tolkien's epic The Lord of the Rings.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      @Ralph. I see your stamps are back in first.

      October 4, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Adversaryan

    Oh Boohoo and i wanna know if they are Muslims too because that last thing we need is to be helping any more Ungrateful religiously retarded humans to prosper long enough to decide America is evil and Allah calls for Blood.

    October 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amir Fazadh

    Sending a six-pack of Aquafina...

    October 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. obiewan

    Plus have you ever seen pacific islanders? Many of these are really huge and fat like giant hippopotamuses. They just drank all their water up. We dont need them over here drinking up our water too.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ralf The Dog

    This will happen in many other third world countries like Haiti and Oklahoma.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Arguenot

    Well, this is probably going to become the regular climate cycle for the area. Anything short of a permanent solution is not feasible. And a de-salination plant for this many, plus animals, is unrealistic. Time to get off the islands

    October 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralf The Dog

      Or, shift the economy to something like tourism. It looks like it might be a nice place to stay for a few days, with just a bit of development.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jordan scene©

    They don't need to relocate. They're just not getting enough rain at the moment to sustain their drinking water. If this was a constant issue I think they'd have relocated sooner or atleast they wouldn't have as dense of a population. They just need aid to get them through their dry spell. Best of luck to them.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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