WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina approved $2.4 million in grant funding for climate adaptation and resiliency initiatives, including food and water security, and Micronesian One Stop Resource Centers.
“Climate change adaptation and resiliency needs, migration under the Compacts of Free Association, and disaster planning preparedness continue to be pressing priorities for the region,” said Kia’aina. “We are pleased to provide assistance to and partner with those communities most impacted and the organizations that can help us address these important issues.”
Technical Assistance Program (TAP) grants awarded this week are as follow:
n $390,000 to the Enewetak/Ujelang Local governments (Marshall Islands) to install a solar-powered reverse osmosis system to support and enhance the current water delivery system on Enewetak Island that provides fresh water to local households. Only renewable energy sources will be used to power the processing of safe drinking water on island through reverse osmosis. Longer dry seasons and greater prevalence of drought due to effects of climate change have led to a significant decline in water quality on Enewetak. Lower precipitation has also affected the quality of the water lens rendering it unsuitable for household or agricultural uses.
n $347,600 to the Kili Bikini Ejit Local Government (Marshall Islands) to purchase equipment to build and reinforce seawalls and help prevent encroaching seawater that continues to flood the island, especially during King Tides, for the past several years and has rendered some parts of the island unusable. Funds will also be used for other immediate infrastructure and maintenance projects, as well as long-term strategic planning on resettlement.
n $20,000 to the Women in Farming Kosrae Initiative (Federated States of Micronesia) to improve their capacity for promoting the planting of fresh vegetables for local consumption to combat sedentary lifestyles and the rise of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. Project activities include: building additional greenhouses to grow and distribute seedlings for cultivation of fresh produce, raising awareness on the importance of balanced diets and leading more active lifestyles, and sharing healthy recipes and food preservation techniques with families in the community.
n $686,062 to the Republic of Palau for the installation of a multi-agency emergency radio communications system and to establish a server for information sharing among agencies in the Palau National Government. Local agencies responsible for public safety, maritime security and fish & wildlife protection, immigration and labor, and the Attorney General’s office would be able to develop an incident-based reporting system through integration of data and improved communication efforts for disasters and other emergency situations on the island.
n $210,000 to Big Brother Big Sisters of Guam for the continuation of activities of the One Stop Shop Micronesian Resource Center. The One Stop Center provides information and orientation services to new arrivals from the freely associated states to promote cultural integration, inclusion and self-sufficiency through workforce development, and family support initiatives that address cultural and social challenges. The organization will continue to utilize the mobile access van, as well as cultural mediators to serve as caseworkers.
n $250,000 to the Partners in Development Foundation (Hawaii) for the continuation of the Halau Ola – We are Oceania (WAO) One Stop Shop Micronesian Resource Center on Oahu for a second year. WAO has become a Marketplace Assistant Organization to help enroll individuals for healthcare.gov and has entered into an agreement with Hawaii’s Institute of Human Services, an emergency and transition home shelter whose goal is to help Micronesians transition successfully and become contributing members of their new communities. Regular activities include continued capacity building through mentoring of the WAO core group, developing and disseminating acculturation materials, cultivating and strengthening partnerships with local service providers on Hawaii as well as the Micronesian governments and organizations in the freely associated states, including outreach to Micronesian communities on the neighbor islands.
n $375,000 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for systems assessment to strengthen the management, accountability, and implementation of Federal health resources in the U.S. Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Freely Associated States of the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.
n $50,000 to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis infections in the Pacific Region.
n $121,371 to the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture to identify and improve the capacity of local agroecosystems to sustain food security and cultural ecosystem services under a changing climate. Partners will include: American Samoa Community College, College of the Northern Mariana Islands, College of the Marshall Islands, College of Micronesia, Palau Community College and the University of Guam.
Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP) grants awarded this week are as follow:
n $99,700 to the Yap Sports Council (Federated States of Micronesia) for the purchase of specialized equipment and materials, temporary management and technical expertise, maintenance-related training, and maintenance-related analysis and studies. The project aims to extend the life of the Yap Sport Complex facilities, ensure the safety of island residents and maintenance staff involved with maintaining and utilizing sporting facilities, increase the facility and professional capacity of Yap to enable regular hosting of regional and international competition and sports training camps and to ensure facility maintenance sustainability and annual operating funding.
n $225,000 to the Yap State Public Service Corporation (Federated States of Micronesia) to provide advanced professional and certification training to the power linemen of five U.S. insular areas. Classes will focus on disaster response training due to increasing typhoon and tropical storm activity, basic lineman certification classes, and disaster response planning workshop for utility managers. The number of storms has increased in the region with 28 “named” tropical storms and typhoons in 2015 alone. The expertise and resources of those trained under the Pacific Linemen Program has been used in recent natural disasters such as Typhoon Soudelor that hit the Northern Mariana Islands in 2015.
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. On behalf of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.