Niuatoputapu placed on drought alert

The Tonga Meteorological Services has issued a Drought Alert for Niuatoputapu.

The remote island has received extremely low rainfall in the past three weeks.

There was only 1.0mm of rainfall recorded from the last week of August to 5 September 2021  

Tonga Met said there are also reports of water deficiency and drought conditions in the island that has shown impacts in water supplies and in most areas in the island.

“Also the rainfall forecast for the next 10 days is biased towards below average rainfall. Because we are still in the dry season and with the 10 day predictions pointing to drier conditions, Niuatoputapu Island Groups are placed under drought alerts, water rationing measures should start to be put in place.”

Households are being advised to closely monitor and look after their water supply in the 3 to 6months.

“If your water supply is rainwater only consider rationing and prioritizing your water usage for drinking, cooking and wash only, preserve water and collect as much rain water as possible by following the latest weather forecasts and reacting to forecasted rainfall events by collecting as much rain water as possible.”

Tonga Met is also advising families to implement careful drought planning and actions.

The following have been recommended:

  • Prepare enough water if it can be spared for irrigating of water dependent crops
  • Apply mulching to the soil around crops to keep as much soil moisture in the ground
  • Plant drought resistant crops over the next 6 months e.g. cassava and lose yam
  • Discuss with your local MAFFF Extension Officer on how to safeguard your crops from drought
  • Follow the 10-day rainfall forecast provided by the Met Office daily

Tonga Met said drought especially prolonged drought always brings with it health risks.

“Drinking and using contaminated water could result in illnesses such as diarrhea and typhoid. And some skin diseases could be experienced due to lack of water for proper sanitation. Consider, boiling drinking water from water catchments. For those who pump ground water for usage, please consult with the Geology Division of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on proper pump and ground water management during drought situations if prolonged dry periods are experienced.”

Town Officers and NGOs are being urged to work closely with communities’ groups to monitor and gauge the water availability and report to NEMO or MIA any water shortages or difficulties that start to arise.

 

Photo supplied Tonga Met Services  Caption: The impact of dry conditions are visible on Niuatoputapu