The Marshall Islands state of emergency declared last month was elevated to a state of disaster last week as prolonged and severe drought affecting the northern islands continues unabated, putting lives at risk.
On Monday, May 6, 2013, the Cabinet declared the Northern Marshall Islands as disaster areas on the recommendation of the Disaster Committee and after receiving reports from assessment teams who surveyed the conditions on the ground caused by several months of severe drought.
The disaster declaration will accelerate and expand access to national emergency resources as well as allow the RMI to formally pursue federal and other international relief and support. The drought has severely damaged vegetations and local food crops, and people’s lives and health are in eminent danger.
Many of the affected communities have less than 11 days of drinking water supply left and are already rationing to 1 gallon of drinking water per household of 6 people per day. Already cases of diarrhea, pink eye, flu and other drought related illnesses are on the rise, with Wotje Atoll reporting in the highest number at 12 cases. “The Northern Marshall Islands is under incredible level of hardship and reports indicate that conditions will get worse in the coming days,” Chief Secretary Casten Nemra said. “We want to ensure that all affected communities in the Northern Marshall Islands get the assistance they need quickly and this declaration will give them access to all available resources of the Government.”
The disaster declaration, elevated from state of emergency, makes available a wide variety of RMI Government resources and those of its international partners that can help affected communities respond and recover from the severe drought. The RMI Government’s personnel and assets have been mobilized to help local government officials and communities with immediate disaster response, including delivery of water, food, hygiene and medical supplies.
Starting Wednesday Morning (May 8, 2013), the Disaster Committee activated the Emergency Operations Center at the Sea Patrol Headquarters in Delap and will remain operational as long as necessary. As of late Tuesday, assistance provided in response to requests from local government Mayors included deployment of Reverse Osmosis Units, emergency supplies and donations of food, water and other supplies from businesses, church groups and individuals in Majuro as well as from development partners.
For drought information and real-time updates, call the Office of the Chief Secretary (Deputy Chief Secretary Justina Langidrik) at 625-3234.
- RMI Office of the President, Majuro, Marshall Islands