Press Release: Adapting to climate change: 700,000 litres of water for Lofeagai, Tuvalu

A cistern that can hold 700,000 litres of water has been gifted to the community of Lofeagai in Tuvalu under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC).

This will help build resilience and reduce vulnerability of the community when it comes to water shortages.  Last year Tuvalu went through one of its driest spells ever with very little rainfall over an 8 month period, bringing the country into a national state of emergency.

It is challenges like these that the regional PACC project hopes to empower Pacific communities to address.

“We frequently experience water shortage in Tuvalu so the PACC support has come at a critical time to help us tackle this and address these issues on the spot,” said the Tuvalu PACC Project Coordinator, Ms. Loia Tausi.

“Through this project, we have managed to give the people of Lofeagai a major reserve of 700,000 litres of water so they have this extra supply to fall back on in their time of need.”

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project began in 2009 and spans 14 island countries, focusing on three key areas; food production and food security, coastal management capacity and water resource management. It helps countries identify a project under one of the key areas and strengthens education and awareness as well as develops a pilot project to build resilience and reduce vulnerability.

In Tuvalu water resource management was the priority area selected after much consultation.  While the average person is estimated to consume 100 litres of water per day, in Tuvalu due to the water shortages they are limited to 40 litres per person per day.  In times of extreme drought events this is lowered even further to 20 litres of water per person per day.

“Having a community tank in Lofeagai will help the community in many different ways.  When there are severe water shortages people must travel to the government offices and line up in order to purchase water. All of this is done at their cost, time and often, inconvenience, but water is life! We need it for everything we do! The people of Lofeagai now have this extra water source to help them all. This is a good thing.”

A Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment as well as a Socio-economic Impact Assessment were conducted in preparation.  The results of these combined with vast consultation led to the development of the community water cistern in Lofeagai community which contains approximately 92 households and is growing.

In January this year the water cistern was handed over to the Lofeagai community for management and use. It has been agreed that future maintenance of the cistern will be the responsibility of the Government of Tuvalu, however should there be an extreme water shortage situation, the Lofeagai water cistern will be managed by the Tuvalu Government as part of their emergency plan. This will help ensure that as many people of Tuvalu as possible have access to water.

Along with supplying the community with the water cistern, the PACC project also embarked on a nationwide awareness campaign promoting wise water use.

“We’ve worked to help ensure the mindsets of people in Tuvalu are geared towards responsible and wise water use, especially in the times of extreme trouble where we have had cases of water theft.  We know that communications and education play a large role in ensuring the sustainability and good practices of this community cistern.”

The 700,000 litres of water within the community cistern are contained in four different chambers, which will help maintenance. The cistern is linked to the water catchment of the nearby church which then feeds into the cistern to fill it. Plans are under way to help build a shelter and a second catchment, which will enhance the speed and reliability of filling the tank, especially in times of low rainfall.

“Next year is the final year for the PACC project in Tuvalu and, over this year and the next, the focus will be on maintaining the tank, monitoring its use and evaluating that it has been helpful to the people of Tuvalu. I’m really happy to see this project come this far and the way it has catalysed a number of different actions – it was the PACC that helped Tuvalu’s climate change policy, our water policy and now this. I want to say thank you PACC and thank you to our PACC National Steering Committee for your support and help”.

So, while the cistern is fully loaded with 700,000 litres of water, ready for use - it’s a good sign for the people of Tuvalu that they haven’t had to use it yet – just knowing that it is there available and ready to help is easing the burden of worry for Lofeagai.

“We did this together. We believe that this PACC activity will help improve their livelihoods, we have equipped them to be able to adapt to the ever changing environmental climate.”

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