Food, water and energy security top SPC concerns following typhoon Maysak

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The urgent restoration of crops and solar systems, and the provision of potable water, are immediate concerns for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in its support to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the wake of typhoon Maysak.

A state of emergency remains in place in the states of Chuuk and Yap following severe damage to crops, water catchments, buildings, solar installations and other infrastructure caused by the category five typhoon just over one week ago.

Through its North Pacific Regional Office in the FSM capital of Pohnpei, SPC is working closely with the government, including the national Office of Environment and Emergency Management, and development partners to identify immediate and longer term assistance needs.

In Ulithi, in Yap State, the government estimates 100 per cent of crops were destroyed, with major crop damage also in Fais and Piig, while other islands are also impacted by salt water inundation.

In Chuuk State, 80 per cent of breadfruit, banana and taro crops are estimated to be damaged.

In addition, SPC is concerned by aerial surveys that show damage to solar PV micro-grids installed on five outer islands of Yap, including Ulithi and Fais.

The micro-grids were installed through a European Union-funded North Pacific Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, run by SPC.

“The SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, last week wrote to President Mori offering SPC assistance in the immediate phase through to long term rebuilding,” the Director of SPC’s North Pacific Regional Office, Gerald Zackios, said.

“We’re working with the national government on a two-year agriculture recovery plan and budget, likely to include the provision of salt-tolerant tissue culture crop varieties, including from SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Suva, Fiji,” he said.

“The team leader of our renewable energy project is visiting Ulithi atoll in Yap as part of a technical team to assess the damage to infrastructure and estimate the cost of restoring the solar systems,” Mr Zackios said.

The agriculture recovery plan will be finalised once the government’s crop assessment damage report is completed.

The good news is that a pumphouse erected through the SPC-implemented, European Union-supported Global Climate Change Alliance Project in Fais, literally days before typhoon Maysak, has survived intact.

Last Saturday (4 April), a Yap State Public Services Corporation crew was able to remove the solar-powered pump from the pumphouse and install it temporarily at a well where it has since been drawing 12 gallons of water per minute, helping to alleviate water shortages in Fais.

Mr Zackios said that portable jerry cans acquired for the same project, due to be shipped with new water tanks to Fais later this month, have instead been filled with potable water and taken to Yap State outer islands on the early relief boats.

“The planned delivery and installation of 45 large household rainwater harvesting tanks to communities on Fais will proceed within the next month, providing important relief.

“The 1300 gallon (5000Ltr) tanks will be shipped to the edge of the reef and then floated, or lightered, ashore, which is the only possible means of delivery,” Mr Zackios said.

Under the guidance of the FSM Emergency Task Force, Emergency Operation Centres are open in Chuuk and Yap States while the government is conducting needs assessments with support from the International Organisation for Migration and Micronesia Red Cross Society.

Emergency centres in all four FSM states were renovated to strengthen the buildings, while a new centre was constructed in Palikir, as part of a European Union-funded project supported by SPC.

Media contact: Rupeni Mario SPC North Pacific Regional Office rupenim@spc.int, +691 320 7523