11th November, 2021 The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) is currently providing a response to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou communities who have been affected by the drought. To provide water to these affected communities, NEMO transported 2 desalination plants that will convert water from underground water supplies as well as from the village water harvesting systems into safe drinking water, as outlined in NEMO’s response plan. NEMO is working closely with the District and Town officers to provide desalinated water to the tanks.
The operation began in Niuatoputapu on the 29th October 2021 before moving to Niuafo’ou on the 1st November, 2021. The Ministry of Health lead WASH cluster in Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou is supporting NEMO’s drought response with the provision of technical expertise to conduct routine inspection of the converted water to ensure that is indeed clean and healthy for the people to consume. The operation is expected to last until the rains arrive and provide sufficient drinking water for the people of the two Niuas and NEMO’s drought response is no longer needed.
Currently the drought warning for Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou remains in place. There is also a drought warning for Tongatapu and as at 29 October, Ha’apai also has a warning in place. Tonga MET updates show that there has been a decrease in rainfall since July in all islands except Va’vau and ‘Eua.
Communities in areas that have warnings in place are encouraged to:
- Plan for when you and your family need to use water, for cooking and for drinking or for crops,
- Minimise your water usage to conserve water for necessity, when possible,
- Ensure your family, especially children, are also aware of water usage to avoid waste.