World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Facing Droughts, Pacific Islands Need Risk Mitigation Steps

Facing Droughts, Pacific Islands Need Urgent Risk Mitigation Steps, UN Warns

New York, Oct 10 2011 - Amid growing concerns about drought crises in some small island States of the Pacific, the United Nations today called for comprehensive risk reduction steps to be put in place to protect vulnerable populations living in delicate ecosystems.

“It really is time to assist Tuvalu and Tokelau to increase storage capacities and manage their resources sustainably, including more effective warnings for drier spells,” UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) head of policy John Harding said, referring to two of the region’s island States and territories.

“With climate change predictions pointing to more acute La Niñas in the futures, plans must also include assistance for communities that will be displaced if existing freshwater is not sufficient,” he added, referring to the weather pattern characterized by unusually cool ocean temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific that can bring abnormal conditions to widely separate areas of the world, from floods to droughts to below- or above-normal temperatures.

On the positive side Mr. Harding noted that the strong correlation between drought and La Niña could be a blessing in disguise, since the phenomenon is increasingly predictable and climate experts can inform decision-makers weeks and even months in advance, allowing for increased storage or stockpiling of emergency supplies in advance of a crisis.

The UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) has identified solar powered desalination units and improved rain catchment and water storage as longer-term mitigation measures against future droughts.

Tuvalu, a collection of far-flung atolls with a population of some 12,000, today began a three-week needs assessment of water, agriculture and health facilities. The most affected areas are the capital city of Funafuti, as well as Nukulaelae and Nanumaga. Australia is covering the fuel costs for the assessment of eight outer islands.

Also affected by the severe drought are Kiribati, with over 112,000 people, the Cook Islands, a self-governing democracy in free association with New Zealand with a population of about 12,000, and Tokelau, a New Zealand territory with about 1,500 inhabitants.

“The critical low levels of freshwater in Tuvalu and Tokelau are just further wake-up calls about the vulnerability of SIDS [small island developing States] to the threats posed by increasing demands on natural resources and development practices that are not sufficiently in tune with these emerging risks,” Mr. Harding said.

“Small island States such as Tuvalu and Tokelau have access to a finite amount of water, mainly from groundwater and rainfall. Managing these resources in the face of increased and diverse demand is a challenge that authorities now face on a daily basis.”

Tuvalu and Tokelau have declared a state of emergency and are receiving emergency assistance from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Australia, New Zealand and the United States, including freshwater, water tanks, portable desalination units and personnel to operate the additional units and fix existing ones.

Many SIDS used the pulpit offered by the General Assembly’s annual general debate last month to call on the world to pay greater attention to their vulnerability to climate change, warning that the international community was not moving quickly enough to either mitigate the effects of the change or support the poorest countries as they tried to adapt. They stressed that sustainable development would not be possible as rising sea levels threatened to swamp them.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Leaked: UK Counter-Terrorism Training Material

The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Aid Urgently Needed For Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

As the severity of ongoing drought in Ethiopia is exacerbated by the arid effects of ‘super El Nino’, ChildFund New Zealand is appealing to more New Zealanders to contribute to their growing aid response. More>>

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news