About 6,000 people who live on the remote northern atolls of the Marshall Islands are facing acute water shortages as a severe drought worsens.

The Pacific island nation this week declared a state of disaster in the north. Australia announced it would provide 100,000 Australian dollars ($101,000) for the emergency supply of desalination units.

There is no end in sight to the drought, with fine weather forecast for at least the next 10 days. The drought has also affected the food supply, withering crops such as breadfruit, bananas and taro.

National Disaster Committee chairman Casten Nemra says many families are surviving on a gallon of water a day and the situation is becoming "increasingly desperate." He says they've deployed ships carrying food, water and medical supplies to the affected islands.