Water crisis worsens

GIZO – Officials in Solomon Islands are calling for water rationing as drought conditions prevail there, especially in the northern provinces.

In Western Province and its capital Gizo, people are queuing up until the early hours of the morning to get water.

The premier of Western Province, George Solingi Lilo, said if the conditions continue for more than a month, “all services in Gizo will have to come to a halt.”

“Schools would be looking to the possibility of suspension for a while because even water for cooking is a problem, drinking water is a problem, people are even rationing mineral water in shops,” Mr Lilo told Pacific Beat.

Mr Lilo said water infrastructure and aging pipes that sees the loss of up to 60 per cent of its flows was a major contributor to the city’s problems.

He has called upon the national government to bring long-promised infrastructure renewal back into the frame, as its delisting as a priority has seen an escalation of the drought’s effects.

Local media said a meeting had taken place between the Western provincial government and disaster stakeholders to address the situation this week.

The dry, cold conditions affecting hundreds of thousands of people in large areas of PNG and Solomon Islands will continue throughout this year’s El Nino event, said the director of PNG’s National Weather Service, Sam Mahia.

“There will be impacts in the rural areas where 85 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s population resides,” he said.

Mr Mahia said even with three months warning of an emerging El Nino pattern and drought, the event had already been a disaster and has put to rest any suggestion that this year’s warnings were a repeat of last year’s false alarm.

The deputy director of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Centre in Washington DC, Mike Halpert, said this year’s event could even be one of the large impact events that rolled around every 15 years or so.

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