Tue, Apr 05, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Palau appeals to Taiwan for aid, water

NOT A DROP:El Nino-induced droughts mean that ‘a total water outage is likely to occur in the next two to three weeks,’ a Palauan government committee said

AFP, KOROR, Palau

Drought-stricken Palau could dry up completely this month, officials said yesterday as the Pacific island appealed for urgent aid from Taiwan and Japan, including shipments of water.

The tiny country of about 18,000 people declared a state of emergency last month, the latest Pacific island nation to do so as one of the worst ever El Nino-induced droughts in the region worsens.

“We’re still in the state of emergency, there’s a sense of urgency to address the crisis,” a government spokesman told reporters as the National Emergency Committee (NEC) met to discuss strategy.

A committee report prepared for Palauan President Tommy Remengesau offered a bleak outlook for the already parched country.

“Based on the current water level and usage rates, and assuming conditions persist unabated, a total water outage is likely to occur in the next two to three weeks,” it said.

Access to tap water is already rationed to three hours per day or less in Koror and schools are only open half days because they cannot give students enough to drink.

“The NEC has been in contact with the governments of Japan and Taiwan regarding support of materials and equipment, as well as direct shipments of water as necessary,” the committee said.

The Japanese embassy in Palau confirmed it had received a request for assistance and discussions were ongoing about what form it would take.

“The nature of what type of assistance and in what volume is expected to be finalized as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.

Palau also expects help from Taiwan. Palau is one of the 22 countries that maintains diplomatic relations with Taipei in the face of opposition from Beijing.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said in Taipei yesterday that the government has provided Palau with financial assistance to purchase seawater desalination equipment and to fund other projects aimed at reducing the impact of the drought.

The NEC report added that the US military had been asked to supply portable water filtration systems to alleviate the increasingly desperate situation.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month said the El Nino weather pattern is unlikely to ease before the second half of the year.

The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have also declared states of emergency, while Guam and the Northern Marianas are experiencing low rainfall.

In Koror, bottled water has become scarce as people stockpile dwindling supplies.

Resident Rolynda Jonathan said she constantly worried about her two children.

“There are no words to describe the level of stress, worry and burden of hauling water from one place to another,” she told reporters.

Additional reporting by StACY HSU

This story has been viewed 2115 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top