In November 2008, USAID assumed responsibility for disaster response and reconstruction in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reflecting the transition of FSM and RMI from U.S.-administered trust territories to independent nations. Using FEMA funding—released upon a U.S. Presidential Disaster Declaration (PDD)—USAID maintains FEMA’s previous commitment to supplement host government efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in the event of a significant disaster. The two U.S. Government (USG) agencies coordinate based on an Operational Blueprint developed to provide a framework for USG disaster response and reconstruction in FSM and RMI.
RECENT RESPONSE ACTIVITIES IN FSM AND RMI
USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) collaborates closely with FEMA, as well as USAID/Philippines, U.S. Embassy Kolonia, U.S. Embassy Majuro, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement humanitarian programs in FSM and RMI. This includes supporting life-saving activities in response to natural disasters—including drought, floods, and storms—and providing technical assistance for response and early recovery activities.
• Typhoon Wutip: From February 19–22, 2019, Typhoon Wutip passed over FSM’s Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap states, damaging crops, houses, public buildings, and water and sanitation infrastructure. On March 11, President of FSM Peter M. Christian declared a national disaster, requesting permission to release $100,000 from the Disaster Assistance Emergency Fund (DAEF). On March 12, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Heather Coble declared a disaster due to the effects of Typhoon Wutip, enabling USAID, FEMA, and the Government of FSM (GoFSM) to carry out a Joint Damage Assessment (JDA). The JDA team recommended relief activities supporting agriculture and food security in affected areas based on the assessment results. On May 7, President Donald J. Trump issued a PDD under the Compact of Free Association between the USG and the GoFSM, enabling the release of FEMA funding. With the funding, USAID/OFDA is supporting Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to provide agricultural rehabilitation services and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide locally-procured food assistance for typhoon-affected populations. In addition, USDA is providing in-kind food assistance through November 2019, while USAID/Philippines is supporting the reconstruction of houses and public infrastructure. USAID’s response to Typhoon Wutip includes more than $4 million in relief funding and $13 million in reconstruction funding.
• FSM Floods: In mid-March 2018, Tropical Depression Jelawat passed over FSM, bringing heavy rainfall to Pohnpei that resulted in flooding, landslides, damage to critical infrastructure, and one death. In response, the Governor of Pohnpei declared a state of emergency, and President Christian issued a presidential declaration of emergency, authorizing the release of $50,000 from FSM’s DAEF. On May 6, U.S. Ambassador to FSM Robert A. Riley III declared a disaster due to flood and infrastructure damage, allowing FEMA and USAID to conduct a JDA of the affected area. The JDA and a follow-up agricultural damage assessment identified needs for critical infrastructure repair and agricultural damage rehabilitation assistance in landslide and flood-affected areas. On July 20, President Trump issued a PDD, releasing funding for USG emergency relief and reconstruction assistance to FSM. As a result, USAID/OFDA is supporting agricultural rehabilitation assistance and USAID/Philippines is supporting the repair of nearly 250 damaged or destroyed houses, as well as damaged public infrastructure and utilities. USAID’s response to Tropical Storm Jelewat totals $3.4 million for relief and reconstruction.
• RMI Drought: Below-average rainfall—exacerbated by the 2015/2016 El Niño climatic event—resulted in drought conditions and water shortages across RMI, affecting approximately 21,000 people and contributing to a deterioration of agriculture, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions. On March 10, 2016, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Sarah A. Nelson declared a disaster due to humanitarian needs resulting from the drought. In response, USAID/OFDA provided IOM with an initial $50,000 and deployed staff to RMI to conduct assessments and help coordinate response activities. On April 27, 2016, U.S. President Barack H. Obama issued a PDD, authorizing the release of federal funding for emergency relief and reconstruction assistance. Through FEMA funding, USAID/OFDA subsequently provided more than $2.5 million1 in additional funding to IOM for the procurement and distribution of supplemental food assistance and WASH supplies to drought-affected communities. USAID/OFDA-supported response efforts in RMI concluded in May 2017.
• Typhoon Maysak: From March 29 to April 1, 2015, Typhoon Maysak crossed over Chuuk and Yap, resulting in four deaths, affecting approximately 29,700 people, and damaging houses, crops, and public infrastructure. On April 2, U.S. Ambassador Dorothea-Maria Rosen declared a disaster in FSM due to the effects of the typhoon. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $50,000 and deployed staff to FSM to conduct assessments and help coordinate response activities. On April 28, 2015, President Obama issued a PDD for FSM, authorizing the release of federal funding for emergency relief and reconstruction assistance from FEMA and other USG agencies. USAID/OFDA provided nearly $7.5 million2 to IOM and $622,000 to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to provide logistics support, distribute shelter materials and other relief items, support WASH interventions, and help restore agricultural production. From FY 2015–2018, USAID/Philippines-led reconstruction activities, which included the repair and reconstruction of damaged houses and public buildings, totaled more than $40 million.