The small pacific nation of Tuvalu is just short of a few days before becoming officially waterless. The situation has become so dire that the nation has needed to send out an international S.O.S call for help.
Tuvalu has already been rationing water below the U.N. standards refugee rate (20 litres per person). They are only able to provide 40 litres of water per household, and each household has an average of 10 to 12 people.
Schools have closed since Tuvalu called this state of emergency and hospitals are inundated with people falling sick due to the lack of water for sanitation needs. According to Sumeo Silu the Tuvalu disaster co-ordinator, they are just four or five days short before they run literally, dry.
Sumeo says that normally at present, it is their rainy season but because of climate change there has been no rain for six months. The root crops have all died from salinisation, largely due to rising sea levels and even the coconut trees on the island are being affected which is highly unusual. Rising sea levels have also contaminated all groundwater available on the island.
The S.O.S has been answered by a number of governments, the Red Cross and it’s neighbours Australia and New Zealand. Thousands of rehydration packs have been airlifted over as well as engineers to fix their broken desalination plants. Thousands of litres of water has also been sent and is on its way to Tuvalu.
Tuvalu’s neighbouring island nation Tokelau has also called for a state of emergency. The even smaller nation is worse off than Tuvalu with already no water left on the island. A U.S. Coast guard vessel has had to send 36,000 galleons of fresh water to the island.
Tuvalu and Tokelau seems to have become the first country to fall prey to climate change. Around 11,000 people from Tuvalu and a thousand from Tokelau which are both the countries entire population are being affected. Tuvalu has already requested the Australian government to take climate refugees fleeing the country but Australia has denied this request. Australia still expects an influx of the very first climate refugees and more if this water crisis is not resolved and if similar instances occur.
At various U.N. Conferences Tuvalu has always been active in voicing it’s fears about the affect of climate change upon their country. Now, it’s actually happening. Hopefully at the next COP 17 conference in Durban, South Africa we will actually manage to accomplish something substantial instead of bickering that climate change isn’t that big of a threat.
On top of this water crisis there is also the ongoing drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Governments and international aid groups are beginning to feel stretched and aid from individuals has begun to slow down. Countries just don’t have the money themselves to continue providing endless outpouring aid due to a myriad of internal problems such as recessions. That doesn’t mean to say that we stop completely though, it’s always going to get worse before it gets better.
The Tuvalu Health ministry denies increase admittance to hospitals due to lack of water for sanitation needs, instead the spike in admittance is due to the poor quality of drinking water. Hospitals have had an increase in people with diarrhoea and vomiting due to the poor quality. (Oct. 7)