EU supports disaster relief in Marshall Islands

MAJURO, Republic of the Marshall Islands—An emergency response vehicle and 208 water tanks have been provided to the Republic of the Marshall Islands this week as part of ongoing support to boost emergency response efforts in the small Pacific Island nation.

The timely gesture has been made possible through the European Union’s €19.37million Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project (BSRP), implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).

The European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, H.E. Andrew Jacobs presented the emergency response vehicle to the National Disaster Management Office in the capital, Majuro, today and will travel to the outer atolls of Marshall Islands including Aur, Tobal and Maloelap to see firsthand the important work of drought response and solar projects that are occurring in these communities.

Maloelap is one of the 14 atoll islands that were electrified with 100 solar home systems under the EU-SPC partnership through the North Pacific ACP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (North-REP).

Jacobs said, “Ensuring communities are resilient to disaster both now as they face drought conditions but into the future is critical for the Pacific region. This is why the EU is committed to supporting projects that deliver real results to communities.’’

The 208 water tanks are being installed on the outer atolls including Aur, Tobal to help alleviate the devastating drought experienced in 2013 as well as the one currently being felt in the country and to provide long-term sustainable access to water for the islands.

Last Feb. 3, Republic of Marshall Islands the President H.E. Hilda Heine declared a State of Emergency and later a State of Disaster as a result the severe and prolonged drought.

At the request of the Marshallese government, SPC mobilized its technical and scientific expertise in agriculture, water and health to the Pacific Island nation in late March, to carry out assessments to determine areas of further support to complement assistance that had commenced earlier in the year.

Pacific Community director general Dr. Colin Tukuitonga said the delivery of this vehicle and water tanks is critical for the Pacific island nation as they suffer from one of their worst droughts in history.

“Communities must be supported before, during and after disaster. This is critical, especially ensuring we also support outer islands in countries like RMI where drought is really having a serious impact right now,” Tukuitonga said.

“We know that natural and environmental hazards are big concerns for the Pacific region so this work will provide long-term sustainable support to community level to ensure the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are best prepared for disasters in the future,” he said.

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