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 (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reflecting the transition of FSM and RMI from U.S.-administered trust territories to independent nations. Under the new arrangement, FEMA provides USAID with funding to conduct response and reconstruction activities following a U.S. presidential disaster declaration, and USAID maintains FEMA’s previous commitment to supplement host government efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in the event of a significant disaster. To provide a framework for U.S. Government (USG) disaster response and reconstruction in FSM and RMI under this hybrid agreement, USAID and FEMA developed an Operational Blueprint, which guides coordination between the two agencies. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) collaborates closely with FEMA, as well as USAID/Philippines and USAID’s Bureau for Asia, to implement humanitarian programs in FSM and RMI.
RECENT RESPONSE ACTIVITIES IN FSM AND RMI
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 the humanitarian needs resulting from the drought. In response, USAID/OFDA provided the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with an initial $50,000 and deployed staff to RMI to conduct assessments and help coordinate response activities. On April 27, U.S. President Barack H. Obama signed a presidential disaster declaration, authorizing the release of federal funding for emergency relief and reconstruction assistance. 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.
Typhoon Maysak: From March 29 to April 1, 2015, Typhoon Maysak crossed over FSM’s Chuuk and Yap states, causing four deaths, affecting approximately 29,700 people, and damaging houses, crops, fruit trees, 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, President Obama issued a disaster declaration for FSM, authorizing the release of federal funding for emergency relief and reconstruction assistance from FEMA and other USG agencies. In total, USAID/OFDA provided nearly $8.1 million,2 including approximately $900,300 in FY 2016 funding, to IOM and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide logistics support; distribute shelter materials and other relief items; support WASH interventions; and help restore agricultural production. USAID/Philippines-led reconstruction activities in FSM are ongoing.
Typhoon Maysak After Action Review: In December 2015, staff from various USG agencies, including USAID and FEMA, the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia, U.S. Department of State, and DHS, met in Honolulu, Hawaii, to discuss lessons learned during the Typhoon Maysak response and explore ways of expediting funding for future responses. Participants also received an update on changes to the Operational Blueprint and clarified the standard operating procedures of the various USG agencies in future responses.