Between February and March 2016 each of the four states of FSM declared a State of Emergency due to the El Niño which is affecting the entire population of 102,360 people. In the 60+ populated outer islands, which are extremely remote, around 30,000 people (29% of the total population) are facing severe water shortages, agricultural losses and health impacts. Residents of the outer islands depend for the most part on subsistence agriculture which was only just beginning to recover from severe Typhoon Maysak (April 2015) when the drought began. Underground water lenses (the only water sources in most outer islands in the absence of rainfall) are experiencing saline intrusions resulting in health impacts for men, women and especially children.
Several problems that the country will be supported with through a series of activities focused around enhancing drought readiness and specifically are:
- a review and update of drought readiness plans and their supporting legislation;
- behavioural change activities in collaboration with civil society groups, focusing on water conservation and making drought readiness an ongoing activity;
- expansion of existing project investigations into the yield of underground water lenses; and
- design and implementation of specific low cost, low maintenance measures to improve the supply and quality of water resources especially in populated outer islands, that build on the existing project’s activities and also include the private sector.