Pacific Islands brace for prolonged droughts and more flooding as La Niña continues for third year in a row

Amid concerns the intensity and frequency of weather events across the Pacific Islands are being exacerbated by climate change, now the region is expected to endure more floods and droughts with La Niña continuing into a third year.

The Australian Bureau Of Meteorology’s declared this month that the climate pattern would continue into another summer.

Australia has felt the force of La Niña for the past two summers, with heavy rainfall and devastating floods in eastern parts of the country.

But as the tropical cyclone and wet season approaches, some Pacific nations are expected to bear the brunt with flash flashing possible for western countries.

Meanwhile, further east, droughts will persist in low-lying atoll nations closer to the equator such as Kiribati, which has already declared a drought disaster emergency.

‘We struggled a lot’

While flooding is common in many parts of the Pacific, especially severe La Niña downpours in recent years have been catching towns off guard.  

Komal Naidu, a restaurant owner in the Fiji town of Ba, watched helplessly as about 60cm of water inundated her business last year.

The town was submerged twice in a fortnight after heavy rain burst the Ba River’s banks in January.

Ms Naidu said the town lost power and six of her staff were left out of work.

“All the tables and chairs were damaged, and we had to close the business,” she told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.

“If it’s flooded, sometimes no water facilities are available and we lose power … It’s the same situation every time now.” 

A rescue police officer waste deep in flood water in Fiji.
Businesses in Fiji’s flood-prone areas say they are used to extreme weather but are concerned about what a third La Niña will bring. (Tweet: @fiji_force)

Many nearby businesses experienced similar hardships.

Nehe, who is a senior chef at the Ba Town Café Hub, said it took months for her business to recover and even her home was affected.

“Our freezers and coolers were destroyed and at home we lost so many chickens and we lost our vegetables,” she said. 

“It was really bad. It destroyed so many things. We struggled a lot.”

Triple La Niña ‘very devastating’

La Niña is an atmospheric phenomenon which shifts warmer water to the western end of the Pacific.

Leave a Comment