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This World Water Day, Thousands Still Affected By Severe Drought In The Federated States Of Micronesia

Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), 22 March 2024 – While millions of people around the world are involved in activities to celebrate World Water Day today, an estimated 16,000 people, including 6,400 children are still affected by severe drought conditions in the Federated States of Micronesia.

There has been limited access to clean water since late last year with a prediction of the severity worsening in the coming months. The drought has impacted children and their families in multiple ways, especially for those who rely on rainwater harvesting. These are the people who experience the impact of drought more harshly than those who have access to wells.

However, those who have access to wells also feel the brunt of the drought with the rise of the salinity levels leading to salty water for drinking.

“Droughts are not new to the Pacific region; however, they are now more frequent, longer lasting and more intense as the result of the climate crisis,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of North Pacific, Cromwell Bacareza. “The limited access to clean water not only impacts hydration for children and their families, but also leaves them vulnerable to water-borne diseases as well as hygiene and nutrition related issues. Their education and mental health are also critically affected.”

UNICEF, together with partners, is supporting the Government of FSM to help the communities respond to the threats faced by the drought, as well as prepare for future emergency through more long-term sustainable interventions.

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“While we are facing the drought, we also got hit by the king tide[1]. About 17 communities have been affected with a population that spans across the vast ocean. This means that in order to reach these communities with lifesaving supplies, the response team will have to travel by boat for about one to two weeks to reach all the affected population,” Bacareza added.

UNICEF is on the ground, supporting the Government’s response efforts to reach every affected child and their family, no matter the geographical challenges. To date, UNICEF has delivered water, sanitation, hygiene, and dignity kits that include items such as collapsible water containers, water purification tablets, soap and buckets with lids to the affected population.

UNICEF has also supplied water testing kits which are crucial for monitoring the quality of water in the affected areas, ensuring it is safe for consumption and use.

Additional buckets have also been provided which are essential for storing and transporting water along with boxes of first aid kits. To protect the supplies during transportation, especially when being delivered by boat to the remote outer islands, UNICEF has supported with durable tarpaulins to ensure that the supplies remain dry and in good condition until they reach those in need.

Apart from physical resources, UNICEF has conducted training for the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management, as well as the Chuuk State Disaster Coordinating Office, on water testing, maintenance of open dug wells, and risk assessment of rainwater capture to enable the community to manage their water resources effectively as well as reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.

UNICEF will continue to support the Government of FSM to reach communities with life-saving supplies to keep them safe and protected during this drought condition.

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Notes to Editors:

[1] A king tide is an exceptionally high tide. The water level of a king tide is significantly higher than other high tides throughout the course of a year.

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