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Hi friends, I haven't been updating you about the water situation because it is now less of an issue, with several desalinators working and this week also a delivery by ship of some water and two tank trucks to assist with delivery. We've also had some rain. Water is still being issued from the communal tanks and I see plenty of people queuing up to get their quota, so I suppose house tanks are still not back to normal levels, but the situation is easing.

Something I did mean to mention is that frangipani trees are blooming very well, and so are the nice pinky flowers (excuse that description, I'm not a flower person!) that are around some houses. To my untrained eye it seems the frangipani flowers are more plentiful than usual, which is contrary to what one would expect considering the lack of rainfall.

Not so nice is the black weed that has covered the beach along the lagoon side of the island. It's not only ugly but it STINKS and the smell extends well back from the beach. However, there was a volunteer cleanup team working at low tide last Saturday morning, collecting mounds of the horrible stuff and putting it into trucks to take away. I believe they are going to have another session this weekend. What a wonderful example of co-operation and community spirit. When I said 'team' I didn't mean half a dozen people, I meant hundreds! I think I'll go help this weekend, as I am definitely benefiting from this cleanup right in front of my house.

03 / 11 / 11 - 19 : 21

28 / 10 / 11 - 23 : 10

... in a veny kind email : "the kids LOVED talking to you!.. I hope we can arrange for you to come back. We will work on letters this week to President Obama, Sec of Energy Chu and Eric Garcetti."

In chris's reply he added, on Oct 31st still : 'Don't forget to include Michelle Obama when you write the prez. She is particularly responsive to kids...'

27 / 10 / 11 - 20 : 00

I did my 4th-grade class today about tuvalu and climate change. very fun! bright kids who are quite concerned...lots of questions....

You may be hearing from their teacher, Lisa, who might want the class to join Alofa...and might want to order a few more english comics if you have them. the kids are also talking about writing about their concern to Barack and Michelle Obama...and perhaps trying to do some kind of fundraising campaign for Alofa....all of which I encouraged them to do.

27 / 10 / 11 - 18 : 00

We have had several good showers in the last two days. The daily allowance per household has been increased to 80 litres. Our situation is certainly improving. Today the wind changed direction and blew quite strongly from the west, although it died away again towards sunset. It's too soon to say that the westerly season has arrived but certainly it seems there's some transition going on.
Bye for now. John

24 / 10 / 11 - 18 : 00

Dear Gilliane,

There is now no need to reconsider your trip, at least not from the water viewpoint. In addition to yesterday’s hour of rain (Tataua tells me it was 52mm) the NZ desalinator got going again (a special engineer flew in on Tuesday and overcame the problem); another desalinator is arriving today by ship; and another one tomorrow by a different ship; and a ship is on its way with one megalitre of fresh water (perhaps one of the two ships previously mentioned).

I think those plants produce bacteria-free water…. the output varies according to the quality of the intake water. If it’s good, clean ocean water the plant can produce at full capacity. If it is contaminated by, say, oil, sediment, sewage etc the output is lower because it takes longer to process the water to the point where it is potable.
I cycled up to the main wharf this morning for exercise, and to take a look at the desalination operation (what I could see of it from outside the wharf fence). The Army guys were busy moving pallets with 1000 litre plastic tanks on them. So obviously they are producing again. I had more exercise than I expected because my back tyre went flat and I had to walk home. Never mind, I needed it!

21 / 10 / 11 - 07 : 18

Our neighbourhood ‘water warden’ Tataua tells me that the water ration is now 40 litres per household per day. He also says that the NZ desalinator has created enough water (now in storage in the Government cisterns at the main wharf and the radio station) to continue the water distribution at same rate for about six days. By then, the NZ desalinator should be operating again.

Presumably the Government one is back in operation after its maintenance yesterday.

I heard there has been a proposal made that households with more than fifteen occupants should get a higher allowance than other houses. Forty litres per day split fifteen (or more) ways is not a lot per person!

I also heard that the Meteorological Office is predicting no significant rain until January. Gilliane – is it important for you to come in December? The situation might be more comfortable by January. Anyway let’s see how this situation develops. I’ll keep you posted.

We had a good shower last night.

18 / 10 / 11 - 15 : 03

I have good news and bad news.
Firstly, the good news. Fortunately, no water was wasted; commonsense prevailed, allowing the NZ Army to drive the road tankers outside working hours.
And now the bad news. The NZ desalinator has broken down. There will be a three day delay while new parts are sent up. Meanwhile Tuvalu had to shut down its own desalination plant today for maintenance. Unfortunate timing!

18 / 10 / 11 - 14 : 56

There’s no possibility of feeding trees with any excess water because there’s no way of getting the water to the trees. If there were a means of doing that there would also be a means of getting it to people’s tanks. The desalinator could be switched off but evidently the engineers don’t want to do so. I suppose there are technical objections to stopping and starting it.

16 / 10 / 11 - 21 : 15

We had some very good rain this morning. It was loud enough to wake (me) up 
(before dawn) and when I got up (later) there were puddles of water on my 
driveway. Hooray!
Unfortunately it has gone back now to being hot and dry. 
I decided it was opportune to do my washing - the first for nearly six weeks 
so rather a lot!

16 / 10 / 11 - 21 : 10

The NZ Defence Force team exceeded their own targets for establishing the desalination plant. They had it up and running early and have already generated about 80 kilolitres. However, there is a problem – distribution. Tuvalu Government has restricted the road tanker operation to normal working hours, to avoid overtime and avoid additional fuel costs. Meanwhile the plant is operating 24 hours a day.
For time being the excess is being piped into the big concrete tank that was built a few years ago by Japan during the reconstruction of the wharf facilities. Once that is full the excess production will have to be pumped back into the lagoon, or the plant will have to be shut down – neither of which is a good option.

16 / 10 / 11 - 21 : 08

... I mentioned that trees were suffering from the water shortage. Breadfruit trees are in big trouble I reckon. A lot of upper branches look dead now and all leaves are limp. The fruit is tiny or non-existent. Even when the
desalinators are in full operation there isn't going to be anything left over for watering trees. Even the palm trees look as though they're suffering. A lot of grass has turned brown too...

12 / 10 / 11 - 16 : 05

The desalination plant that was talked about last week is indeed too much for a C-130. That's not entirely because of size/weight of the plant but also because the C-130 cannot refuel in Funafuti. So it has to carry enough fuel for a round trip. Why is the plane unable to refuel? Well, it's because
the fuel tanker has broken down!

Anyway, the plant will fit in THREE C-130's. It's New Zealand military equipment, 1960's vintage, but of course well maintained over the years. Its capacity is about 50 kilolitres/day, five times our present plant's capacity. A Royal Australian Air Force C-17 ('Starlifter') flew from Canberra to Auckland yesterday and carried the plant from Auckland to Apia(one trip). A C-17 can't land at Funafuti. Today the RNZAF C-130 arrived with part of the plant. It will come again on Monday and Tuesday with the remainder. Tuvalu has vetoed a flight tomorrow because it's Sunday Church services.

There are technicians here already assembling the plant and it's quite conceivable they'll have it running this week.

Additionally, each island will be receiving its own (permanent) desalination plant. Apparently Britain, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have agreed to jointly fund the eight units at a cost of about $120,000 each plus $50,000 for spares and consumables. Those plants won't be here for a month or so - presumably by sea.

Anyway, we're into the last 15 minutes of the France/England rugby match (France well in the lead and almost sure to win now) so I'll say goodnight.

08 / 10 / 11 - 16 : 43

Alofa Tuvalu recommande:

L'exposition "Maori, leurs trésors ont une âme" au Musée du Quai Branly à Paris, du 4 octobre 2011 au 22 janvier 2012 conçue et réalisée par Te Papa Tongarewa, le musée de Nouvelle-Zélande.
L'exposition a été installée en une quinzaine de jours sous la direction de la conservatrice de Te Papa, Nirmala Balram et son équipe, qui nous ont fait l'amitié d'une visite à leur arrivée à Paris.

06 / 10 / 11 - 00 : 10

Hi Gilliane,

We’ve just had rain – heavy rain! It started at 0400 and finished at 0407! The heavens are just teasing us again.

Chris (Horner) was right – the desalinator CAN fit in a C-130, and HAS fitted in a C-130, and has ARRIVED Funafuti. It has been sent by the Red Cross. Evidently the one that is coming by sea is for longterm use, and I imagine it is coming by sea because of cost of freight rather than size of components. I assume the Red Cross plant will go back to NZ once the bigger plant arrives (or sooner, if it rains).

It’s always impressive to see the Kiwis bring in their C-130’s – by far the biggest aircraft I’ve ever seen here, and I think nothing bigger could land. C-130’s can only do so because they have those huge wheels, and lots of them, to spread the impact on landing.

The wingtips extend well either side of the runway of course. It was interesting how they unloaded. They lowered the ramp, pushed out a big pallet, moved the aircraft forward a few metres, pushed out another pallet, same with a third, and it was all over in five minutes.

I’ve hear the “Manu Folau” picked up the desalinator recently from Motufoua High School at Vaitupu and took it to Nukulaelae, which was in worse state even than Funafuti. It was OK to take if from Vaitupu because they still have ground water there so can use wells.

OK, the aircraft is still on the runway with all four engines roaring, so I’ll go back to the airport and watch today’s entertainment. I wish I had a camera. I will get some photos from others to send you all.

Best regards, John

03 / 10 / 11 - 14 : 13

Hi Gilliane (and all),

The water shortage is getting worse. There has still be no significant rain in months and our Met Bureau is predicting no rain until December. That will really cause problems. The desalination plant can't satisfy demand. Every economy measure is now being taken.

The Government has set up 10 kilolitre tanks (standard size made here) at various places around the island and is distributing two buckets of water per day per household, under supervision. People are managing well enough but it certainly is uncomfortable.

I am just using minimum water to shower (about a cupful really) which necessitates not using any soap. I'm not washing any clothes. My office/residence has a bigger tank capacity than almost any other house because my company bought additional tanks over the years. I’m just being frugal because it seems the proper behaviour at the moment, and also because of the good influence of you and your conservation-minded friends of Alofa Tuvalu. If the drought doesn't break soon I'll pull out and work from my office at home in Australia. That will leave more water in my tanks for Eti and the neighbours.

The hotel is closed except for houseguests. I think Filamona is the same. The Chinese Restaurant is sometimes open, depending on whether they have any water.

I’ve noticed that the breadfruit trees look really stressed. Their big leaves, usually glossy green and ‘bouncy’, are hanging somewhat limp. The palm trees don’t seem bothered but perhaps they won’t be as productive of nuts and toddy as time goes by without rain.

We sometimes get dark clouds passing over but they never have rain in them. Oh, come to think of it, we did have rain last night. Very good rain too, all two minutes of it. I think it just came to tease us.

Tataua told me that New Zealand has offered to send a big desalination plant. Apparently the components are too big to fit in a C-130 ('Hercules') aircraft so they will have to come by sea. Obviously that won't be a quick fix.

Supplementing the existing shore-based desalination plant with one of bigger capacity sounds like the best option for the time being. In the longer term increasing the island’s storage will be the best way to drought proof. The capacity has been very much increased in recent years, as you know, because every house was issued a 10 kilolitre tank. I hear the Government is hoping to give everyone a second such tank. As we’ve discussed before, the problem here is not the lack of rainfall (on average) but lack of storage capacity. Funafuti’s rainfall is much more than at my home in Australia, where my family also depends on rainwater. There’s plenty of space there for big tanks, which is not the case here in Funafuti. Of course there are places that big tanks could be built here but a tank by itself is no help, they have to be connected to roofs for catchment. So the only practicable place for tanks is alongside houses, where the space is very restricted nowadays.

Better would be for New Zealand to send HMNZS Canterbury, the big supply ship that was here during the military exercise. It could sit alongside the main wharf generating freshwater (desalinating it) faster than it could be distributed I should think. The ship could bring some road tankers for distribution but again the problem would be finding places to store the water.

(Yesterday) we had the annual parade for National Day. It was very well attended by dignitaries but there were few regular citizens look on, as far as I could see. The police, seafarers and children marched very smartly, as always. It was a nice ceremony. For me, the 14th one (though I wasn't on-island for some).

There's a big summit meeting here to consider what can be done about climate change. I think you know about that meeting. Island leaders from outer islands are here for that, as are Tine and Afele Pita and many others. One doesn’t normally see all these ambassadors back in Tuvalu at same time. The summit is being taken very seriously.

So that’s how it is in Funafuti at the moment. Looking out of my office window, watching the palm trees swaying to the trade winds, and the gentle ripples of turquoise blue water lapping on the sand of my ‘office beach’, there really doesn’t seem too much wrong with the World. Last evening I was standing on my beach observing the brilliant array of stars above my head and pondering the unfathomable mysteries of the Universe. It was an idyllic moment, which, unfortunately, I had to break because one of the mysteries was how my Crown Lager was nearing empty, like the water tanks.


02 / 10 / 11 - 17 : 14

"State of Public Emergency Declared for Tuvalu today due to water shortage.", Tataua (RedCross) says.

The country is experiencing one of the most severe drought in its history. On September 18th, our friend John Hensford, a Funafuti resident, was writing : “It has been several months since there was good rainfall in Tuvalu. The situation is certainly very different to normal…. It’s been ten years since there was such a prolonged dry period”. On the capital atoll Funafuti, “the hotel limits its services to overseas guests and doesn’t cater for any functions because of the water shortage. Filamona Lodge and Chinese restaurant were also closed because of having no water.”

The situation is worrisome in the outer islands as well and inter islands boats schedules are delayed. Teu, our biogas coordinator in Nanumea, the northern islands of the archipelago, was writing on August 29 : ”I am still on Funafuti. We were supposed to go last week on Tuesday but was delayed due to no water on Funafuti for the boat. Even the desalination machine could not cater for the boat and the people on Funafuti. It was reported that about more than 100 families await for water from govt. Where we lived we have to walk to another home to have shower. Then strong wind warning was on as well for last week. So we are not sure when the boat scheduled for the northern islands.”

Back from a survey on Nukulaelae, the Tuvalu Red Cross issued an information bulletin (GLIDE n° DR-2011-000146-TUV) on September 27th by which the organization explain that "since early this year, all islands in the group have been suffering from lack of water due to the La Nina effect, which has impacted the islands’ agriculture and daily water consumption… The island is very low on fresh drinking water and has requested the government for assistance.. Population is being rationed with 40 litres per family per day… The island nurse on, 21 September, reported that four children and three adults are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting…. Tuvalu government has three desalination plants. One is in use in Funafuti, one in Nanumaga (an island in the north) and one in Motufoua High School in Vaitupu. The usage of the two desalination plants in Funafuti and Nanumaga are already overstretched due to existing water shortage. It is planned that if a desalination plant is needed in Nukulaelae, the desalination unit at the school will be mobilized to Nukulaelae.”

The Meteorological Service forecasts rain for next month. Everyone cross fingers.

28 / 09 / 11 - 16 : 05

16 / 09 / 11 - 17 : 15

La première chronique de Bridget Kyoto sur facebook
Merci d'en abuser !
et merci Laure (Noualhat) pour ce petit délice !

Pour faire durer le plaisir : Bridget est aussi sur You Tube

26 / 08 / 11 - 17 : 40

Wednesday July 20th, Tuvalu Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Environment, Tourism and Labour, Apisai Ieremia, informed us: “Some bad news. One of our Minister, Hon Isaia Taeia, the Minister for Natural Resources, died here in Apia yesterday”.

The delegation was taking part in Rio+20 international meetings in Apia (Samoa).
After a special funeral service was held in Samoa, the delegation organized to fly back to Tuvalu with the coffin. The body arrived in Nui, Hon Isaia Taeia island of birth, where funerals were held.

By elections will be organized for Nui citizens to elect their new member of Parliament.

Our thoughts go to his family and friends.

Alofa Tuvalu

Mercredi 20 juillet, le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, du Commerce, de l'Environnement, du Tourisme et du Travail, Apisai Ielemia, nous informe : "Triste nouvelle. L'un de nos Ministres, Hon Isaia Teaia, le Ministre des Ressources Naturelles, est décédé ici à Apia hier."

La délégation participait à des meetings internationaux pour Rio+20 à Apia (Samoa). Un service funéraire spécial s'est tenu à Samoa, puis la délégation a organisé le rapatriement du cercueil à Tuvalu. Le corps est arrivé à Nui, l'île d'origine de Hon Isaia Taeia, où ont eu lieu les funérailles.

Des élections partielles vont être organisées pour que les citoyens de Nui élisent leur nouveau membre du Parlement.

Nos pensées vont à sa famille et à ses amis.

Alofa Tuvalu

28 / 07 / 11 - 17 : 28

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