Drought relief in the Marshall Islands

Media release

6 May 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced Australia would provide $100,000 for the emergency supply of desalination units for the Marshall Islands, following continued severe droughts which have severely reduced agricultural capacity and risk endangering local lives.

"This is about saving lives and protecting the food supply across the Marshall Islands' northern atolls," Senator Carr said.

"It follows a specific request from the Marshall Islands Government.

"An estimated 5,000 people in the northern atolls are experiencing severe drought conditions with an additional 11,000 people affected by continued dry weather and crop loss.

The desalination units will help the Government of the Marshall Islands to provide more drinking water and reduce the impact of the drought on affected communities."

"In some drought-affected areas, household water catchments and other storage facilities have run entirely dry, while salinity levels in underground water sources have reached unsafe levels. Frequently there is too little water for general consumption or for production of agricultural staples like breadfruit.

"All Australians would understand the hardship that comes with severe drought. This modest contribution for desalination units will go a long way to saving local lives and preserving agricultural supplies."

Senator Carr said Australia would also work with the Marshall Islands on long-term drought preparedness planning, once the current crisis had passed.

Media enquiries