The 22nd of March was the World Water Day. Water is one of the main problems on Tuvalu today, especially in the face of climate change. The day was celebrated with a big expo, arranged by all stakeholders working on water management on Tuvalu. School pupils and students from elementary school to university level were invited to learn more about how to ensure access to this important and progressively scarce resource. We asked them:
What do you think is the most important thing Tuvalu could do to ensure sufficient and safe fresh water?
I think the most important thing we should do is not to waste water. We should stop the children playing with water. If they waste the water, we might not have any water for drinking during a drought. We also have to make sure that everyone knows how we can protect water from diseases. People have to boil the water every day before drinking.
Lavnda Sikope (18)
We have to clean the water tank and the filter in the tank regularly – like every second week.
Taiana Lekai (19)
We have to protect the tank and keep it clean. We should not place the tanks near the trees, because then things can easily fall into the tanks.
Isamaeli Nui (19)
We have to make sure to store enough water.
Tofikai Eddie (19)
Water on Tuvalu:
Most of the ground water resources on Tuvalu are either heavily polluted by waste water leaking from old septic tanks or heavy metals from the formal and many informal waste dumps or exposed to saltwater intrusion. Therefore the health authorities strongly recommend that this water be used solely for secondary purposes (washing clothes, the pig pens etc.). Therefore, the only way to get drinking water is to collect the water coming from above.
How to get the rain:
Firstly, in order to collect water successfully, you need a good roof that can lead the water into a good and non-leak gutter. The gutter then, has to lead to somewhere where you can store the water – like a tank. When you have all this, you have to make sure to keep everything clean and to have good filters, to keep organic products and other harmful things out of your water.
Almost all houses in capital Funafuti have their own rainwater tank, provided through a project funded by the European Union. Tuvalu is in an area with relatively high rainfall. In 1992, the island report of Funafuti, states that rainfall was relatively regular with a shower at least every 5th day. Climate change, however, is modifying the rainfall patterns all over the world, including in the South Pacific. This makes it harder to plan how much water you will get and how much you can use every day.