Pacific: Drought - 2015-2017
In Fiji, many communities are experiencing the effects of an El Niño-induced drought, with farmers losing crops and water supplies drying out and water trucking underway. A drought warning is in place and the Government reports at least 30,000 people are now affected. Other El Niño effects include a drought declaration in Tonga after extremely dry weather for nearly a year and further low rainfall expected for the rest of the year. Emergency water supplies were distributed to the outer islands and water desalination services are available if needed. (OCHA, 14 Sep 2015)
Current estimates suggest that 4.3 million people in 12 Pacific countries could be at risk from changed rainfall patterns caused by El Niño (drought and increased rainfall).
Fiji are reliant on water deliveries as a result of the country’s El Niño-related drought in Western, Eastern and Northern divisions of Fiji.
A drought watch has recently been cancelled in the Solomon Islands after recent rainfall which started before Christmas. However there remain food security concerns after repeated interruptions to crop cultivation as a result of cyclones, floods and drought conditions last year. (OCHA, 8 Jan 2016)
Many parts of Micronesia are entering a period of moderate to severe drought as El Niño impacts continue to be felt. Lower than normal rainfall during the coming months will cause drought to develop in the Mariana Islands and parts of Chuuk state. Drought is already affecting Palau and Yap State. A dry trade-wind pattern will also cause increasingly dry conditions across the Marshall Islands. Below normal rainfall is expected across the region until later in the year. (OCHA, 25 Jan 2016)
The Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency in February after 13 atolls have formally requested assistance from the National Government to address water shortage challenges associated with the droughts. (Gov't of Marshall Islands, 3 Feb 2016)
Over the past several weeks, extreme drought was reported in eight atolls across the Marshall Islands including Wotje and Utirik. As of 20 April, the drought has affected an estimated 6,400 people. On 24 April, the Government declared a State of Emergency for 31 days in the affected areas. The Emergency Operations Centre was activated and is coordinating the response with local governments and national clusters. Authorities are liaising with bilateral partners to support the in-country response. (OCHA, 1 May 2017)
Palau became the latest country in the north Pacific to declare an El Niño-related State of Emergency. In a statement, the President reported that the total rainfall in the state of Koror over the past four months was the lowest recorded since 1951. The Ngerimel Dam, has run out of water while the only other remaining source of freshwater, the Ngerikiil River, is at a critically low level. Koror and Airai are on an emergency water-rationing schedule, permitting three hours of water access each morning and evening. Water rationing was also initiated in other parts of the country. (OCHA, 28 Mar 2016)
Vanuatu has been grappling with drought since mid-2015 with many of the affected areas being the same as those that were hit by Category 5 Cyclone Pam in March 2015, thus reducing communities’ resilience to further shocks. Reasonable rain over recent months has eased water concerns across of the country but food security remains an ongoing issue in some areas. As Vanuatu is moving into its traditional dry season, there are still concerns that food gardens may not be able to supply sufficient produce to keep all areas and populations appropriately fed later 2016. (OCHA, 06 Jun 2016)
Papua New Guinea was impacted by the El Niño climatic phenomenon from mid-2015 to 2016, causing the affected areas to experience less than average rainfall and a series of frost events. The prolonged anomalous weather pattern has resulted in water shortages and crop damage in a number of localities, particularly in the Highland provinces. In 2015, the European Commission made over €1 260 000 available to enable its partners to provide relief and build resilience amongst the most vulnerable communities. Overall, a total of 75 000 individuals benefited from this aid, which included health and nutrition support, as well as access to clean water and the provision of water and hygiene kits. Farmers also benefited from training on drought resilient agricultural methods. As the dry spell has continued into mid-2016, affecting the food security of close to 1.5 million people nationwide, a further €2 million has been released to support a food assistance initiative by the World Food Programme (WFP). The aid focuses on meeting urgent food needs of 180 000 people in drought-affected areas. (ECHO, 28 Sep 2016)
In October 2016, the World Food Programme announced that it had concluded its food distributions in Papua New Guinea, having reached more than 246,000 people in the highlands as well as Western and Milne Bay Provinces. WFP documented visible signs of recovery as well as anecdotal evidence suggesting the return of crops to areas once affected by drought. However, evidence of the extent of the recovery was limited —while the El Niño event has officially ended, some subsistence farmers reported that they did not expect kaukau (sweet potato) yields until December 2016. WFP will begin an assessment in November 2016 to monitor the extent of the recovery (WFP, 20 Oct 2016)
In Kiribati, a drought situation is affecting several areas including Butaritari, Beru and Kirimati. An emergency situation has not yet been declared. Low water levels are also reported in Nauru, Tokelau and Tuvalu. (OCHA, 13 Mar 2017)
According to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology’s El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Outlook, there is around a 50 per cent chance (twice the normal likelihood) of an El Niño event developing in 2017. Since the beginning of 2017, sea surface temperatures have continued to warm in the Pacific. To mitigate the potential impact of El Niño, countries in the Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, have started to initiate preparedness activities. In 2016, at least 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific region were affected by severe weather events associated with El Niño. While the effects of El Niño have not been consistent they have generally comprised of extended dry spells or drought leading to water shortages, prolonged lean seasons and food shortages. (OCHA, 8 May 2017)
According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, a regional sustainable development body, five of eight surveyed models indicated El Niño is likely to form by the third quarter of 2017. The effects of an El Niño event are different for each country. Generally, however, El Niño events are usually associated with lower rainfall with the possibility of droughts, dust, and increased bushfires in countries like Fiji, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in the Western Pacific. In the Eastern Pacific, including countries like Kiribati, Nauru, Northern Cook Islands and Tuvalu, El Niño events are usually associated with higher rainfall—likely leading to flooding, infrastructure damage and the pollution of water sources. (SPREP, 24 May 2017)
A global fund that provides rapid humanitarian aid for overlooked crises, is marking the second anniversary of the World Humanitarian Summit by sharing the impact of its 4th year, through its new annual report released today.
The Start Fund fills a critical gap in humanitarian financing. It pools funding from donors for immediate release for underfunded small to medium scale crises, spikes in chronic humanitarian crises, and to act in anticipation of impending crises.
11/03/2018 Wotje, Marshall Islands With the effects of climate change and extreme weather events disproportionately affecting people in the Pacific, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the support of the Marshall Islands government is providing emergency aid to some of the Marshall Islands remote atolls hit hardest by drought.
In November 2008, USAID assumed responsibility for disaster response and reconstruction in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reflecting the transition of FSM and RMI from U.S.-administered trust territories to independent nations. Under the new arrangement, FEMA provides USAID with funding to conduct response and reconstruction activities following a U.S.
In 2016, the world’s biggest weather phenomenon, El Nino, affected more than 60 million people across parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The humanitarian impact from this El Nino cycle was massive in scale, leaving more than 60 million people around the world facing food and water shortages, rising food prices, higher malnutrition rates, devastated livelihoods and forced displacement.
A low-lying atoll nation in the central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati has a population of just over 110,000 people. Below average rainfall since November 2016 has led to an ongoing drought across the country, with the southern island most severely affected.
This year’s State of the Environment for Oceania report focuses on people’s changing relationship with the seas that surround us, and how Oceania communities and governments are responding to today’s environmental challenges.
Beneath the surface of the waves, the temperature, volume and chemistry of our oceans is changing. A major report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature said the world is ‘completely unprepared’ for the impact of warming oceans on marine life, ecosystems, and people.
Following the response across the PNG Highlands region to the El Niño event in 2015-16, a Lessons Learnt Workshop was held in Goroka on the 9th of May 2017.
The Lessons Learnt Workshop had the following objectives:
Provide space for Provincial and sub national government staff and key humanitarian partners in the Eastern Highlands to capture key learning at critical steps of the 2015-16 El Niño emergency response.
The El Niño climate event in 2015 and 2016 caused widespread drought and frost in Papua New Guinea (PNG), peaking in late 2015 and breaking in early 2016. With three-quarters of the population reliant on their gardens for food security, only 40% of the population having access to an improved water source and only 19% of the population having access to an improved sanitation facility, the drought impacts were considerable.
Port Moresby, 12 October 2017– Western Highlands and Simbu, like other Highlands provinces, are prone to many different hazards including floods, landslides, droughts and frosts.
Communities in these provinces are regularly impacted by floods especially those living along the rivers and the flood plains. Infrastructure including the Highlands Highway is also regularly impacted by landslides and other calamities. In 2015/16, both provinces were affected by El Nino-induced drought and frost, especially people living in high altitude areas.
Description: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) mission in the Federated States of Micronesia oversees the offices in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Palau. The IOM mission in the Federated States of Micronesia has created a country strategy for the period 2017–2020 for each country, tailored to fit specific government needs and priorities.
UNDP highlights success stories in gender-responsive climate resilience
Women will play an essential role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, protecting our planet’s natural resources, and building a climate-resilient future for generations to come, according to case studies and analysis presented in a new Gender Impact website from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
This case study draws on fieldwork in two communities in Fiji that participated in the 2002–05 Capacity Building to Enable the Development of Adaptation Measures in Pacific Island Countries (CBDAMPIC) project, one of the first adaptation projects in the Pacific that attempted to work at this community scale to build resilience to the longer-term impacts of climate change. In both communities, the project served as a catalyst for more resilient development, improving both absorptive and adaptive capacity with respect to water shortages.
People residing in two drought-prone sugarcane areas on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, are a step closer to accessing more reliable water supplies, following the recent completion of Hydrogeological surveys. The surveys, conducted by a Water Resources team from the Pacific Community’s Geoscience Division have mapped new sources of underground water in Qerelevu (Ba) and Nanuku-Wailevu (Ra).
This performance evaluation using Case Study design and qualitative methods focused on the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s (NIWA) Challenge Fund (CF) Drought Risk Visualization Toolkit (DRVT) project in Solomon Islands, Samoa and Fiji. It addressed the following four theory-based evaluation questions:
To what extent is NIWA achieving CF logic model results at the outcome and purpose levels in Solomon Islands, Samoa and Fiji? (Please note that these results refer to access and use of the toolkit.)
in the month of June, the Pacific was in the spotlight at the highlevel UN Conference to Support the implementation of Sustainable development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), demonstrating global leadership on ocean issues with Fiji and Sweden serving as co-chairs of the meeting.
Technical officers from different Pacific atolls met in Kiribati for an intensive week of training and knowledge sharing to improve their capacity to support the water security of vulnerable island communities.
The one-week Atoll Water Security Workshop was convened by the Pacific Community (SPC) in South Tarawa, an urban atoll community all too familiar with the impacts of climate variability on household water security.
With no substantial rainfall since November 2016, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) declared a state of emergency in April 2017 due to a severe drought affecting the country. At the time eight out of the country’s 29 atolls were affected by the drought, impacting approximately 12 per cent of the overall population of RMI.
We have come a long way from when the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into force, the establishment of the Global Environment Facility, the Kyoto Protocol, the adaptation Fund, recently the Paris agreement and the Green Climate Fund. Yet the same issues and challenges of accessing climate change funds by small islands remain up to day.