Kiwis to provide aid in wake of cyclone

New Zealand aid workers will fly into Samoa this week to help address a critical shortage of clean water.

Water supplies were badly affected when Cyclone Evan slammed the Pacific nation more than a week ago, killing at least five people and forcing thousands into evacuation centres.

Samoa's government this week said a forecast for when reliable nationwide water supplies could be expected was yet to be determined.

The main water treatment plant serving the capital Apia and other parts of the main island of Upolu was working, but large sections of pipe were still missing.

Oxfam's Pacific humanitarian manager Carlos Calderon said the water shortage remained Samoa's biggest concern, and some areas would not get their supply restored until after Christmas.

Mr Calderon will fly from New Zealand to Apia this week to help aid groups distribute large flexible water tanks, which can easily be transported on flat bed trucks.

The tanks could serve 4000 people in Apia but on the badly affected southwest coast, they would serve as few as 2000 people.

Samoa's government said water and sanitation officials were working to install 28 locally produced 10,000 litre communal water tanks in affected communities, and 12 water filling stations at urban and rural sites.

About 4800 people remain in some 40 evacuation centres, mostly on the main island of Upolu, including eight in the capital Apia.

Mr Calderon said one of the concerns at evacuation centres was getting people back to their normal lives.

Seven of Apia's evacuation centres were in schools, which would prevent students from returning to school or university when the holiday period ends.

"We need to try to foster the recovery process in their own neighbourhoods in Apia."

In Fiji, electricity and water had been restored quickly, but Mr Calderon said there was a strong impact on businesses such as hotels and resorts.

In the cyclone-hit north, emergency supplies including food and water were distributed from Sunday, the Fiji Times reported.

Both Fiji and Samoa are set to receive extra power generators to supply areas whose electricity was knocked out by the cyclone.

The New Zealand branch of power supply multinational Aggreko said it would send six generators and one transformer to Samoa, and four generators to Fiji.

Aggreko NZ area general manager Philip Lendich said the company's team in the islands has been working hard all week to help the community while also supporting their own families.

"Our depot in Fiji is already working at capacity so we are shipping our most powerful units that are capable of supplying power to whole villages as they recover from the cyclone.

"We are making final preparations, including servicing the generators at our depot in Auckland, ready for the first available shipment and immediate utilisation once they arrive in Samoa and Fiji."

- Matthew Backhouse of APNZ

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