Quantcast

5 Island Nations That Could Completely Dry Up This Month

Climate

By Nicole Mormann

Drought is causing panic in the northern Pacific nation of Palau, a group of more than 200 limestone and volcanic islands that are otherwise surrounded by turquoise waters.

Officials warned Monday that the Pacific island nation could completely dry up this month as El Niño-caused droughts continue to severely threaten water resources in the region. The country of some 18,000 people is requesting urgent assistance, including shipments of water, from neighboring countries Japan and Taiwan. Officials in Palau also reached out to the U.S. military, asking it to send portable water filtration systems.

Arch in the Rock Islands off Koror, Republic of Palau. Photo credit: AJ Demma / Flickr

“Based on the current water level and usage rates and assuming conditions persist unabated, a total water outage is likely to occur in the next two to three weeks," reads a report from Palau's National Emergency Committee, the nation's advisory council for disaster management.

As of right now, residents in the capital city of Koror can access tap water for three hours or less every day and schools are open for half of the day because there's not enough drinking water for students. In a desperate attempt to preserve water, people are collecting what little bottled water is left on the island. Their efforts remain futile without foreign aid.

“Every morning we struggle to shower, clean up and prepare for the day with the limited amount of water we have," Rolynda Jonathan, a Palau resident, told Agence France-Presse.

Last month, Palau became the latest Pacific island nation to declare a state of emergency over its worsening drought crisis. President Tommy Remengesau confirmed that the amount of rainfall over the past four months in Koror was the lowest recorded since 1951. With the dam having dried up and the city's only other source for suitable drinking water, the Ngerikiil River, less than 20 percent full, the president warned that other basic services such as hospitals and power utilities could fail as a result of scarce water resources.

Extreme El Niño weather patterns have been causing devastation around the world as warming ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean have brought a paradoxical mix of severe droughts and flood-inducing precipitation to dozens of countries, Palau included. Yet, El Niño is showing signs of weakening, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. While tropical Pacific sea temperatures remain warmer than average, subsurface temperatures are said to have sharply declined.

Here are a few other island destinations that are facing crises over similar drought conditions.

Marshall Islands

In early February, the Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency to combat the extreme drought that threatened the region's fresh water resources for months. While President Hilda Heine said the government was increasing initiatives to fight the effects of drought, including freshwater storage and constructing reverse osmosis systems on islands, she also hoped the declaration would ignite international resources.

“We will be sharing our declaration with our donor partners and, of course, resources are what we need to be able to reach the people out there," she told Radio New Zealand. “So we hope we can get additional resources to help in the drought."

Federated States of Micronesia

Some parts of the Federated States of Micronesia are being hit with record-breaking drought conditions. Drought has been especially powerful in Micronesia, with several islands just weeks away from running out of drinking water. According to Mark Adams, the emergency response coordinator at the International Organization for Migration office in Pohnpei, many of the remote islands depend on rainfall as their freshwater source and some of these islands have had little to no rain since the end of last year.

As for solutions, Adams told Radio New Zealand reverse osmosis systems and water supplies are being distributed across the country.

Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands

The coast of Yona, Guam. Photo credit: Jonathan Miske / Flickr

In late January, the National Weather Service forecast office in Guam reported that Guam and the Northern Marianas islands were receiving below-average rainfall in previous months and that it would continue for several more months. Increasingly dry land caused grass fires to break out in Guam as drought conditions continued to worsen and dry up and yellow the region's crops. Guam is a U.S. island territory in the western Pacific Ocean; the Northern Marianas are a U.S. commonwealth and lie right above Guam.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Protecting the Earth Is Not a Crime

Climate Model Predicts Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Double Sea Level Rise

5 Reasons to Explore the Untamed Beauty of Denali National Park

6 Island Hikes to Add to Your Bucket List

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less