Micronesia + 2 more

IOM Micronesia: El Nino Induced Drought In RMI

Situation Report
Originally published


Affected Populations

  • 21,000 people affected by severe drought conditions.
  • 1,257 households on the outer islands and 5,195 households in urban areas affected.

Areas of Cooperation

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), supplemental food assistance, education, training and capacity building

The Marshallese are no strangers to drought. In fact the last time they experienced severe drought was three years ago in 2013.

This time, though, thanks to a weather system that started building up in early 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared this El Nino induced drought as “one of the strongest .... in recorded history.”

Based on predicted and recorded rainfall, and field assessments, the Government of the RMI (GoRMI) began responding to this drought in early 2016 to mitigate affects and proactively initiate emergency response mechanisms.

This drought emergency has severely limited water supplies and caused widespread crop damage across the nation.

A State of Emergency was declared by Her Excellency President Heine on 3rd February, 2016, State of Natural Disaster on 8th March, 2016 and extension of State of Natural Disaster on 6th April, 2016. Thereafter President Obama officially declared the disaster on 27th April 2016.

With generous support from donors including the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Australian Aid and the New Zealand Embassy, IOM has been working with the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (GoRMI) through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) since early January 2016 to ensure that basic water, hygiene and nutrition needs are being met during the drought emergency.

One critical element of the water security strategy has been for the GoRMI and IOM to maintain and deploy a stock of portable, solar powered Reverse Osmosis (RO) units and distribute more than 6000 jerry cans by the end of September. At the height of the drought, over 50 RO units serviced 33 communities throughout RMI, providing critical access to water. After completing a tailored IOM workshop with qualified trainers from New Zealand Red Cross and US company FCI Watermakers, 14 local staff are now able to maintain, install and repair the fleet of RO units.

IOM is working in coordination with the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) cluster and the Marshall Islands Red Cross Society on health and hygiene promotion campaigns that underscore drought assistance efforts in affected communities.

Necessary hygiene and sanitation items have been procured locally and are being distributed to beneficiaries taking into account the specific needs of vulnerable populations including the elderly, those with disability, pregnant women and children.

“We continue to be concerned about the severity of these weather events in our region” said IOM Chief of Mission, Mr Stuart Simpson. “We stand ready to support partners as they respond and try to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

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