WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S, Department of the Interior has awarded $644,063 in fiscal year 2020 grant funding to provide reliable energy systems for two remote atoll local governments in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and to bolster services available to the Marshallese community residing in Northwest Arkansas. Funds are provided through the DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program.
“Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt] and I are pleased to support Marshallese communities in the Marshall Islands and in the United States,” said Douglas W. Domenech, Interior assistant secretary, Insular and International Affairs. “Reliable and efficient energy for the remote Namdrik Atoll local government and Enewetak local government on Majuro will go a long way to reduce high costs of imported fuels, and we are glad that we are able to provide support to Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas who have been disproportionally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
U.S. Ambassador to the RMI Roxanne Cabral said, “The RMI is a close friend of the United States and we are grateful for the opportunity to help provide solar energy to the local governments of Namdrik and Enewetak/Ujelang. Also, our heart goes out to RMI citizens affected by COVID-19 in Arkansas, and we are glad to be able provide support to this community.”
The grant funding award is detailed below:
• Namdrik Alele Local Government – $350,000 will be used for a solar-powered energy network to provide 100 off-grid stand-alone solar photovoltaic systems with battery backup for homes on Namdrik atoll in the Marshall Islands. Power in the atoll is limited, non-existent, or unreliable – restricting atoll residents from activities after sunset. Solar energy systems, proven effective in the RMI, are supported by local energy plans, will improve the livelihood of Namdrik atoll residents, and will provide training opportunities for residents during installation and deployment of the systems.
• Marshallese Educational Initiative (MEI), a non-profit organization – $207,063 will be awarded to fund public service and outreach activities of the Marshallese Resource and Educational Center in Springdale, Arkansas. Activities provided in support of the Marshallese population in Arkansas include outreach and awareness related to the coronavirus pandemic, translation and notary services, youth mentoring for higher education, health-care and diabetes prevention outreach, financial-planning workshops, resume-building services, and awareness to prevent domestic violence. MEI estimates the Marshallese population in Northwest Arkansas to be close to 10,000.
• Enewetak/Ujelang Local Government – $87,000 will be used to purchase and install a new solar energy system with solar panels and air-conditioning units for the recently completed Enewetak/Ujelang local government building on Majuro. The new building, funded through Compact of Free Association funding provided by OIA, replaced a 40-ft container previously used by the local government as office space and warehouse for food storage and other necessities that are stockpiled for the Enewetak/Ujelang community. Enewetak is one of the four nuclear-affected atolls in the RMI.
The OIA Technical Assistance Program is made available each year by Congress to support priorities in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states. For more information on grant assistance provided through OIA, visit: https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance. (PR)