MANILA, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday it has provided a 4 million U.S. dollars emergency grant to Tuvalu to help fund drought relief efforts.
The Tuvalu government declared on Nov. 8 a state of public emergency due to the extreme drought affecting the whole country.
Aaron Batten, regional director of ADB's Pacific Subregional Office in Fiji, said the persistent drought has exhausted rainwater supplies and made groundwater sources unsafe to drink. "Water scarcity has also contributed to a real threat of outbreaks of waterborne diseases," he added.
The Manila-based bank said the Tuvalu government on Nov. 11 requested financial assistance from the ADB to finance drought relief efforts across the country.
The ADB provided the grant from its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program (Phase 3). The program provides Tuvalu, as well as the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu, with access to an immediate and flexible source of financing to respond to disasters triggered by natural hazards and health emergencies.
"The state of public emergency in Tuvalu triggered by historically low levels of rainfall underscores the compounding impacts of the climate crisis to Pacific island countries," Batten said, warning that even when rain returns to the affected areas, it could take up to 12 months for food crops to recover, resulting in continuing food insecurity.
The Pacific Disaster Resilience Program (Phase 3) is financed by a 40-million-U.S.-dollar loan from ADB's ordinary capital resources and a 54-million-U.S.-dollar grant from the Asian Development Fund, which provides grants to ADB's poorest and most vulnerable developing member countries. ■