OCHA impact team in Marshall Islands to assess needs in severe drought conditions

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A state of emergency has been declared in the Marshall Islands as prolonged severe drought conditions are getting worse.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) has sent a UN disaster and coordination team to the area that is currently assessing the situation.

OCHA Spokesperson Jens Laerke says most of the domestic water tanks on the four atolls are completely empty.

"Water in the wells is considered unsafe to drink due to bacterial contamination and high levels of salt. Most of the installations for water purification and desalination are also operating below capacity. The food crops there, which are mainly breadfruit and banana, are also reported devastated due to the drought. Obviously, it's basically the lack of drinking water is of high humanitarian concern, particularly for the children."

Laerke says the Government is to receive an OCHA cash grant of $50,000.00 to assist with the immediate response efforts.

At the same time, the government has sent two ships to the northwest and the northeast with full water containers, hygiene kits and other relief items to almost 600 families in the worst affected communities.

There is a likelihood that the drought in the Marshall Islands will remain through July and it will take several months of normal rainfall for ground water to be replenished and still longer for food crops to recover.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'18"

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