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Disaster Risk Reduction in the Federated States of Micronesia - Status Report

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Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 647 small islands in the Western Pacific. It comprises four semi-autonomous states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. FSM has 273.5 square miles (around 708 sq km) of land area, with a vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering more than one million square miles (2.5 million sq km). The land area total is made up of Yap State: 46 square miles (119 sq km), Chuuk State: 49 square miles (126 sq Km), Pohnpei State: 132 square miles (341 sq km) and Kosrae State: 42 square miles (108 sq km). All states except Kosrae have inhabited outer-island atolls. Pohnpei State, the most significant state, comprises one sizeable volcanic island and six inhabited atolls. [FSM Statistics Office, 2020] [Federated States of Micronesia Department of Finance and Administration, 2017].

The nation’s economy depends heavily on subsistence farming and fishing. Agricultural practices remain small-scale – crops grown in the country are tree crops (breadfruit, coconut, and citrus), root crops (taro and yam), pepper, cloves, and tobacco. Fisheries predominantly rely on traditional fishing methods. Copra (dried coconut meat) is the main export, and extra bananas, coconuts, and taro are sold to neighbouring countries. The basic economic unit is the household, and it often includes extended families. Yap state has the most robust economy and highest standard of living. The tradition of sharing, communal labour and giving gifts to tribal leaders remains. [Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, 2019].

Two-thirds of the labour force are government employees, and the Wholesale and Retail Trade industry is also dominant. Around 22% of the population is unemployed. FSM is among the 45 poorest countries globally, and more than 26% of the population lives below the poverty line. Women’s labour force participation rate was only 50.1% in 2000, compared with 67.2% for men. On average, women received less than half the wage of men (4,514 vs 9,286). [Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, 2019] [The Pacific Community, 2012] [Federated States of Micronesia].

FSM is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and is prone to disasters. Common threats and hazards include typhoons, landslides, droughts, earthquakes, and sea-level rise. Frequent typhoons destroy houses, plantations, and environmental assets and claim people’s lives and livestock. Landslides are triggered by natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, or typhoons and sometimes bring more damage and life loss than the primary event. Recently, FSM has experienced moderate to severe drought due to the El Niño phenomenon. The country experienced a series of earthquakes in 2017. Climate change is causing sea-level rise, and the population isalready experiencing shortages of drinking water and uncertainty over food security. [Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, 2019].

Though the country considers it essential to protect ecosystems from natural hazards, overexploitation of biological resources, habitat loss and degeneration, climate change impacts, pollution, the spread of alien invasive species, and infrastructure development threaten ecosystems and biodiversity. [Micronesia Conservation Trust, 2014].

In the Strategic Development Plan (2004-2023), the national strategy was summarised around the four elements: Stability and Security, Improved Enabling Environment for Economic Growth, Improved Education and Health Status, and Assured Self-Reliance and Sustainability. The Stability and Security pillar looks to maintain economic assistance at levels that support macroeconomic stability. The Improved Enabling Environment pillar would be achieved through the continued national commitment to economic reform andthe provision of an enabling environment to help open, outward-oriented, and private sector-led development. The Education and Health pillar is concerned with using the annual Compact of Free Association (COFA) grants by the United States to support the provisionof basicessentialices in education and health. The Self-Reliance and Sustainability pillar's objective would be achieved by establishing a Trust Fund that would replace the annually appropriated transfers from the United States. [Federated States of Micronesia].