Brain drain has been cited as the reason for a shortage of technical staff to tackle water resource management issues in the Pacific including Fiji.
This was revealed in a report titled "Freshwater under Threat ù Pacific Islands" released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities (SPC) earlier this week.
Author David Duncan, the regional environmental engineer of SPC SOPAC's Water and Sanitation Program, said water resource vulnerability provided one of the greatest challenges and this was further worsened by the high emigration of skilled and educated workers.
"This brain drain hinders development in this region with many countries struggling to fill technical positions," Mr Duncan said.
"Water resource management is a critical issue in this region where many islands are isolated and have limited local resources."
The report said water resource management challenges were likely to be further aggravated by climate change and that solutions would have to be tailored and innovative ù and take into account the complex geographical and socioeconomic constraints of each island.
"There is no one solution and it would need a mix of policy intervention and preferred management measures," he said.
Among the report's recommendations is the need to have long-term strategies to address sustainable management capacity, an integrated water resource management (IWRM) model adapted to the Pacific, investment in infrastructure and integration of disaster risk management into national planning.