Strengthening water security in Tuvalu

The ‘Strengthening water security in Tuvalu’ project will expand previous water security interventions to establish effective backup water supply and access for households, schools, government facilities and the wider communities of Funafuti. A number of technical training opportunities will be provided in areas of desalination operations and maintenance, water management and maintenance of water harvesting systems to the PWD staff, local technicians, teachers and students of Fetuvalu High School, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Primary and pre-schools in Funafuti.

Project Focus: Water Sector

Direct benefit: 6,716 persons
Indirect benefit: 3,929 persons

  • Geographic coordinates: Lat. 5° – 11°S, Long. 176°- 180°E
  • Total land area 26 km²
  • Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 757,000 km²
  • Population (2019 estimate) 11,646
    • Temperatures have warmed and will continue to warm with more very hot days in the future. 
    • Rainfall shows no clear trend since 1927. Projections of annual rainfall are unclear, with models indicating little change. Wet and dry years will still occur as a result of natural variability. Extreme rainfall events are projected to become more frequent and more intense. Drought frequency is projected to decrease by the end of the century.
    • Ocean acidification has been increasing in Tuvalu’s waters. It will continue to increase and threaten coral reef ecosystems.
    • Sea level near Tuvalu has risen and will continue to rise throughout this century. 
    • December to March wave heights and periods are projected to decrease slightly

Source: BOM, CSIRO, 2014, Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific: New Science and Updated Country Reports

How does this project address climate change adaptation in Tuvalu?

Water scarcity is a major issue in Tuvalu with the issue intensifying severely in dry seasons and droughts. This situation is exacerbated as a result of climate change and variability.  The primary water source is from rainwater catchment systems and groundwater is classified non-potable in most islands due to high salinity levels and pollution. In Funafuti, the demand for freshwater is close to reaching the estimated sustainable yields for freshwater supply. Improving water security is a high priority for the Government of Tuvalu and the SUPA project will scale up and support the ongoing efforts by the Government of Tuvalu.

The project will scale up past initiatives by the Government of Tuvalu and Japan on the backup supply of freshwater through desalination plants. A 20m³/day, solar powered and portable desalination unit will be procured and installed in Funafuti to supply the residents with freshwater. Enhanced skills in operations and maintenance of the unit will be achieved through specialized training of PWD staff and relevant technicians in the country. In times of dry spells and when needed, the unit may be transported to and used in outer islands. 

To improve water supply and access, a water truck of 10,000 litre capacity will be procured and operated in Funafuti by the PWD.  The truck will deliver freshwater from the desalination plants and water cisterns to the residents of the island.

After assessments of the water systems at Fetuvalu High School and the SDA Primary schools in Funafuti, the water systems will be refurbished. Training on water management and water systems maintenance will be provided to the staff and students of the two schools.

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Key Highlights

  • Conducting assessments of existing desalination plants with regards to capacity, operations, maintenance and costs.
  • Installing a portable, solar powered desalination plant in Funafuti.
  • Delivering the specialized training in desalination plant operations and maintenance to the staff to relevant technicians.
  • Assessing the water systems at Fetuvalu High School and Seventh Day Adventist Primary School and refurbishing them.
  • Delivering capacity building trainings on water management and water systems maintenance to staff and students.
  • Supplying a10,000 litre water truck for water delivery across Funafuti.
  • Conducting a needs analysis and raising awareness about climate resilience for local area stakeholders.
  • Building the capacity of community leaders and island council members in climate resilience through accredited training.
  • Integrating climate change and disaster risk into local area sustainable development plans.
  • Assessing the impacts of past climate change adaptation projects and applying the results to national strategic planning.

Activities meet the following SDGs:


Enhancing water security

Concept Note

Project Design Document – Amended June 2021

Installation of desalination measures

Assessment of existing desalination units in Tuvalu

Supply of a desalination plant to Tuvalu

Enhancing rainwater storage systems at the schools

Conceptual Design- School Water Improvements, Funafuti 2021

Supporting water delivery

Outreach and awareness

Web Story: Tuvalu celebrates World Water Day

Building community resilience