Like most of the islands in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands have a history of natural disasters and their susceptibility is increasing due to climate change. These have ranged from floods and cyclones to tsunamis and earthquakes, and all of them have caused destruction in the nation. The United States has been fairly diligent about sending humanitarian aid to the Marshall Islands for relief from a number of natural disasters and for the prevention of future destruction.
The Marshall Islands were a U.S. territory until 1986 when it gained independence. However, the nation is under a Compact of Free Association, which ensures that the United States provides economic assistance and other benefits to the Marshall Islands. Some of this funding does provide for disaster response programs, but humanitarian aid to the country is not limited to this.
Humanitarian aid to the Marshall Islands from the U.S. has been fairly consistent over time, and a number of government agencies run programs and provide assistance to the nation. There have been many programs funded by U.S. agencies that have been quite successful. In 2013, the United States sent $5.1 million in drought assistance to the Marshall Islands after President Obama declared the drought a disaster, opening the way for emergency funding. This is an example of the U.S. providing disaster relief to the nation, but it also does a fair amount in the way of disaster prevention and response.
The United States funded the Climate Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Education program in the Marshall Islands. This program educated 500 children and 5,000 community members on effective disaster response and evacuation. The U.S. also provided humanitarian aid to the Marshall Islands for the development of the Pre-Propositioning Emergency Relief Commodities project. This project facilitated the placement of emergency relief supplies in a number of locations throughout the country. Both these projects helped to improve response times and disaster preparedness in the Marshall Islands.
As climate change worsens, so does the amount of aid the Marshall Islands and the other Pacific islands will need. Disaster response needs to be continually improved, and even then, no one can predict every catastrophe. The United States has done a lot to provide humanitarian aid to the Marshall Islands and this trend will likely continue, as it has many benefits for the U.S.
– Liyanga de Silva
Photo: Wikimedia Commons