Kiribati - Drought
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
12 March 1999
1. According to preliminary information gathered by the UNDP's Disaster Management Programme-South Pacific Office (DMP-SPO), a drought has persisted in Kiribati for over a year. Kiribati is situated in the south Pacific Ocean, 2,000 km north of Fiji. Kiribati consists of three island groups, namely; the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands. The population is approximately 84,000, and the national capital is Tarawa.
2. Current major impacts are on water sources and tree crops. The underground water level is deepening and rainwater storage tanks have been drained. Breadfruit and coconut trees, essential food sources for atoll islanders, are severely affected. South Tarawa, where some 78,000 people live, and Ocean Island, which is totally reliant on rain water tanks, are the worst affected areas. At the moment, both areas are on strict water rationing. The Government fears a deterioration in sanitation standards, which would put the population's health at risk.
3. The President of the Republic of Kiribati has requested international assistance. In particular, help is sought to address the water shortage crisis.
4. OCHA is in close contact with the UN Resident Coordinator in Suva, Fiji and with the DMP-SPO to monitor further developments and to update information.
5. This situation report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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R. Mueller/Ms. M. Kondo,
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