The Pohnpei state government identified the five high-priority projects for the Seabees. They have already started the first two. The team has broken ground on a changing house at the Pohnpei swimming pool. The new facility will feature separate men’s and women’s changing rooms complete with showers and restrooms. They have also begun work at the Island Food Community of Pohnpei office building to repair extensive termite damage. This will require a complete rebuild of all non-concrete portions of the building. The Seabees have already gutted the structure and are installing new plumbing fixtures, wiring, doors, trusses, and roofing.
The team will also renovate three other sites: Kolonia Elementary, the Sokehs Dispensary, and the Pohnlongas Dispensary.
This is the second time a CCAD team has visited Pohnpei. On their previous tour they renovated the Pohnpei Public Library, the Department of Public Health Substance Abuse Clinic, and buildings at PICS and Ohmine Elementary Schools.
Initially, the CCAD program was proposed during the U.S.–FSM Joint Committee Meeting in August 2010 to enhance U.S.-FSM partnership and cooperation. The CCAD program rotates deployments, visiting a different FSM state every six months. Thus each state will receive CCAD assistance every two years. This is contingent on the respective State Governments submitting a list of suitable projects for JCM review.
The CCAD program provides a number of direct benefits to the islands in addition to the finished construction projects. The program purchases all materials from on-island vendors, which helps stimulate the island’s economy. Additionally, the CCAD team trains local apprentices. The Pohnpei Department of Education selected eight people to work alongside the current CCAD team. The apprenticeship program provides an opportunity not only for the Seabees to share their engineering and construction skills but also for them to learn from local workers.
The U.S. Department of Defense funds 100 percent of the CCAD program. They cover all the military labor expenses and the building materials. There is no cost to Pohnpei State or the FSM national government. It is fully separate from Compact funding.
The funding mechanism for CCAD is also separate from the Humanitarian Aid for the Federated States of Micronesia. Pohnpei residents may remember that Pohnpei Gov. John Ehsa chose HAFSM to renovate the Pohnpei State Hospital in April 2013. The HAFSM program tackles larger projects. In the case of HAFSM, the DOD provides all the labor, but Compact funds pay for materials. Just like CCAD, these materials are purchased from local vendors. HAFSM also features an apprenticeship program for skills and knowledge transfer, which ultimately benefits the local labor market with more qualified workers.
The Seabees are working six days a week, and will be active not only at the construction sites, but will also provide tutoring to PICS high school seniors who are taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test in order to qualify to join the U.S. military. (U.S. Embassy Kolonia)