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Tuvalu/Pacific: Impending Drought - Operation Update Report n° 1, DREF Operation n° MDRTV002

Date de publication
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Summary of major revisions made to emergency plan of action:

This Operation Update is issued to inform stakeholders that the operation timeframe is extended by one month until 31 December 2021. The extension is required for Tuvalu Red Cross Society (TRCS) to complete data verification, input and analysis as household surveys were only recently completed. Surveys were done with 1,473 households across the seven islands, covering questions related to water access, water stress, health, livelihoods and access to early warning information. The TRCS will agree on relevant, appropriate actions in coordination with NDMO based on the data acquired.

Additional time is needed due to data collection challenges, as limited capacity has led staff and volunteers to use manual, paper-based methods instead of digital forms. These paper copies had to be delivered from the outer islands to Funafuti by infrequent boat service. Apart from the delays, there are no changes to the budget or activities.


Description of the disaster

The TRCS has been monitoring potential drought since July 2021 using regional and national rainfall status and outlook data. Through the identified activities in this plan, TRCS is tracking if the dry meteorological conditions faced by the Northern islands in recent months is causing water stress in the community.

The Northern and Central island's activities have been completed (in Nanumea, Nanumaga, Niutao Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufeta and Funafuti), with 1,473 surveys carried out across the seven islands between September and October. The data analysis from the water sounding and household surveys will determine if these communities are experiencing or facing water stress and related issues to health and livelihoods. The TRCS will analyze the data collected to identify likely areas of impact, the number of people potentially affected, the event's expected effects, and the possible timeframes and determine if they need to prepare and respond with certain activities.

The current internal Pacific Red Cross EAR Watch (Early Action Rainfall Watch) for November 2021 to January 2022 shows that Northern Tuvalu is at the Dry Warning stage. Concurrently, the NIWA outlook for the same period predicts below normal rainfall for Tuvalu (87% chance, moderate confidence). These forecasts flag Tuvalu as facing potential high-water stress. This information will be considered when reviewing data to understand the experience of water stress at the household level.

Tuvalu is highly reliant on rainfall as the primary source of freshwater. There are no rivers on the islands, and groundwater is extremely limited. Rainwater is harvested and stored in household tanks, island community and church tanks, cisterns and a large government cistern. Funafuti's water harvesting system is inherently sensitive to dry spells because it is entirely dependent on rainfall. Their water systems reflect the timing, frequency, and intensity of rainfall. Groundwater resources, where available, are brackish and exposed to saltwater intrusion from flooding and rising sea level, as well as human and animal waste contamination.