Media Release: 25 October 2017

National Disaster Management Office

Honiara, Solomon Islands


Temotu’s Tinakula Health Update: Ash-fall reducing across Reef Island while water shortage continues


Reports from Temotu Province, Reef Islands say that ash-fall has now largely stopped in Fenulola Group and other parts of Reef Islands and that communities are now experiencing heavy rain.


Reports from general pubic suggest communities on Santa Cruz are now experiencing some sulphur smell.


Water Contamination due to ash fall: Widespread water shortage exists now across reef islands and Santa Cruz due to contamination of drinking water wells and tanks. Quick thinking by leaders in some communities who disconnected the down pipes from the tanks before the ash fall avoided wider contamination of water supply. Community members have reported that underground water sources like the one in Tanga, Reef Islands, have also been affected. Currently many communities are without uncontaminated drinking water and are relying on coconuts for drinking.


Generally, if water taste and colour are normal and you can see very little ash or no ash in the water this means that the water is safe to drink. It is recommended that if possible children and babies drink young coconut or breast milk at this time. If the colour of the water has changed and the water has a metallic taste then it is recommended that you do not use this for drinking water. Other normal uses of water like washing vegetables are ok. Using contaminated water for cooking rise is not ok.


Health Affects due to Ash fall and Hygiene: Red Eye and some skin irritation (scratching/ sores) are being reported as impacts of exposure to ash are having an effect on physical health. If new exposure to ash occurs, wash affected area. If ash comes in contact with eyes, clean with water to remove particles of ash and avoid scratching. Go to the clinic if eyes become very infected.


Be careful to avoid outbreaks of diarrhea by maintaining good personal and toilet hygiene and not drinking dirty water OR EATING unwashed fruits for example local apples which are now in season.


Avoid breathing ash. Cover nose and mouth with damp cloth while cleaning up ash. Ash can cause flu-like symptoms of heavy dry coughing, chest irritation, head spin and vomiting.


NDMO encourages the public to take wise decisions to remain safe, strong and healthy during this time. Check our website for further updates and listen to SIBC and other radio stations at main news times.