Thousands of people are being impacted by drought in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The four states – Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – have all been experiencing drier than normal weather since December last year with the U.S National Weather Service predicting things are likely to worsen under current El Nino conditions.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), people in affected communities are in desperate need of food and water.

UNICEF’s Micronesia field office chief Cromwell Bacareza said its estimated 16,000 people – 40 percent of those being children – are in dire need of food.

He told RNZ Pacific severe drought conditions in the North Pacific are a grim reminder of the climate vulnerability of small island states.

“Many families are struggling to provide adequate nutrition to their children because agriculture is also affected and the reports that we receive a lot of those taro patches are ruined by the drought,” Bacareza said.

“It’s not an isolated incident but rather a grim reminder for everyone of the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities, particularly the small island states.

“Rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and more frequent extreme weather events are all contributing to the severity of the droughts in the region.”

Last month, the FSM national government said that with the help of partners it had mobilised emergency relief supplies for affected communities.

The government said it had dispatched over 13,500 cases of water and over 13,100 sacks of rice to Pohnpei, Yap, and Chuuk.

“In solidarity with FSM’s relief endeavours, the International Organisation for Migration provided 500 jerry cans, 27 hygiene kits, and deployed assessment personnel with a reverse osmosis (RO) unit capable of producing 360 liters per day, funded by USAID. UNICEF contributed 754 buckets and 587 wash kits containing essential sanitation items.:

The Australian vessel Reliant dispatched 116,000 liters of fresh water for drought response in Pohnpei, while the U.S Coast Guard aided in transporting relief supplies and RO units to Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro,” the Office of the President said via a statement.