New Business Opportunities in Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia is a 600-island nation in the Pacific Ocean where 40 percent of the population lived in poverty as of 2014 and 32 out of 1,000 children died before the age of 5 as of 2017. Micronesia is heavily reliant on U.S. aid since the nation’s independence in 1986, but many expect it to end by 2023 as the country struggles with unemployment, over-reliance on fishing and a stagnant local business sector with uncertainty looming. Micronesia’s private sector will need a significant boost when aid from the U.S. comes to an end. Opening new business opportunities in Micronesia, specifically at the local level, is a priority the Pacific island nation needs to capitalize on.

Connecting Micronesia

The rise of the internet has been an important business driver for the private sectors for many nations. Micronesia has been tackling a project to expand the country’s own servers both locally and globally. The Pacific Regional Connectivity Project by the World Bank is a long-term project that will not only connect Micronesia with its neighbors Palau, Nauru and Kiribati via a fiber network, but also allows Micronesia to open and regulate the market to allow the private to build and improve domestic businesses that the current satellite connections would not be able to bring. The building of the lines to improve networking and connections is a pivotal investment to increase the domestic business sector to boost the local economy. Exploiting the internet is an important objective for opening new business opportunities in Micronesia and evolve the local marketplace.

Tourism Sector in Micronesia

Improving the tourism sector is also a priority Micronesia should exploit to bolster its economy. Neighboring countries such as Palau, Nauru and the Northern Marina Islands, a U.S. territory, have strong connections to various Asian countries to allow easier access to their respective areas of interest, which Micronesia also currently relies on if falling short. States within Micronesia have taken steps to rectify the tourism concern, such as when Yap made a controversial deal with the Chinese development company Exhibition & Travel Group in 2011 to develop tourist destinations 1,000 acres across the state. Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinea-based airline Air Niugini established connections to Chuuk and Pohnpei, Micronesia in 2016 and increased flight capacity in 2017.

Fishing Sector in Micronesia

While Micronesia has been improving its tourism sector, it has also made deals with countries outside of the U.S. to bolster its fishing sector which has been in major need of development. Focusing on the regional neighbors has been a major step in that development. As an island nation, fishing is one of Micronesia’s main economic sources, however, there have been concerns about its long-term reliability, and thus, the country’s management of resources has become necessary. Chuuk has size-based policies to control and maintain fish populations during appropriate seasons, balancing the marketplace and keeping fish populations at sustainable levels. Micronesia also began a transparency program in its tuna fishing sector in 2018, a measure to monitor and sustain the tuna population for both local and international marketplaces. Fishing is an important asset for Micronesia; maintaining the population levels of various species including tuna is a priority the country be paying attention to for years to come.

Opening new business opportunities in Micronesia requires the country to branch out from the guiding hand of the U.S. and beseech nearby neighbors to bolster the local economy. Micronesia also expects to sustain its local fish populations to enhance the markets both locally and internationally. While the steps have been small, the Federated States of Micronesia has made the necessary moves in the event that the United States end its aid in 2023.

Henry Elliott
Photo: Flickr



Girls' Education in Micronesia

Located in the northern region of Oceania, the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the island country, Nauru, and four prominent island states: the Marshall Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Mariana Islands. Modern education in the islands has grown leaps and bounds from its initial introduction via Japan during World War I, especially once the region became Americanized at the conclusion of World War II. With this American aid, the development of girls’ education in Micronesia began to grow swiftly and has continued ever since.

Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)

According to a status report released by the United Nations Development Programme in 2010, the gap between male and female enrollment in Micronesian schools began to close after signing the Millennium Declaration. In 2009, the ratio of girls to boys in primary education was 0.96, compared to the ratio of 0.92 in 1994. In the same year, the ratio of girls to boys in secondary education was 1.02, and the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in the College of Micronesia was 1.14.

Despite this improvement, girls still scored lower than their male peers, though not by much. The same study shows that in the 2008-2009 school year, while boys garnered an average 65 percent test score, girls scored an average of 61 percent, pegging the overall test score at 62 percent.

Chuuk Women’s Council

Chuuk, one of the four Federated States of Micronesia, had become home to many different non-governmental organizations all throughout the 1980s. In 1984, these organizations began to congregate; by 1993, they had totally coalesced to create bigger waves and to form what is known as the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC).

Currently, the council is spearheaded by Christina “Kiki” Sinnett. In an Office of Minority Health blog post, Sinnett wrote, “The biggest challenge for women in Chuuk is access to education. Unfortunately, in many Chuukese households, girls are overlooked by parents when it comes to education decisions, meaning that they may do whatever it takes to educate their sons, often at the expense of their daughters’ education.”

She further elucidates that many programs the CWC offers are engineered for disenfranchised women who never got the chance to complete their schooling.

Although Chuuk has the highest student populous of all the Micronesian states, the mean amount of time a Micronesian adult spends in school 9.7 years; the United States’ mean amount time spent in school, however, is 12.9 years. This contrast means that while education globally falls short, girls’ education in Micronesia is utterly abysmal.

Promoting Female Wellness

The CWC doesn’t restrict itself to traditional educational lessons. The Shinobu M. Poll Memorial Center triples as a rendezvous for the council’s annual conferences, an educational domain and a wellness center for women. Within the premises, cancer screenings are performed, a dialogue regarding reproduction/reproductive safety is alive, and the doors to HIV tests are open.

In their Healthy Lifestyles Program, the CWC combats tuberculosis as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis promotes abstinence — Chuuk has the highest teen pregnancy rate of all the federated states. The organization also provides reading material for those in need of health-related education.

Another major staple of the CWC is advocacy work, especially regarding violence surrounding women. The establishment lobbied heavily for the age of consent to be legally altered from 13 years old to 18 years old within the nation’s regions.

With much work still left to do and many left uneducated on the harsh realities women face daily in the Federal States of Micronesia, the CWC also stands for “community policing” in their areas. Community policing is, essentially, the spreading of information and reporting of sexual misconduct to expel ignorance and miseducation from the community.

Girls’ Education In Micronesia

Sinnett, who succeeded her mother (the memorial center’s namesake) as CWC president, grew up an active fly on the wall of the nursing lifestyle. “I got to watch her go to work every day,” Sinnet told the Rural Health Information Hub, speaking of her late mother, “care for others, and be a valuable member of our local community.”

This conduct acted as a catalyst for her to become involved herself, and push to ameliorate girls’ education in Micronesia.

– Jordan De La Fuente
Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in MicronesiaMicronesia is a nation in the western Pacific totaling 270 square miles, but its roughly 600 islands are spread out over an area nearly five times the size of France. Due to the unique geography of Micronesia, it faces special challenges– social, economic and governmental.

In the mid-1980s, Micronesia and the United States negotiated a Compact of Free Association that provided the island nation with $100 million per year and its citizens with the right to live and work in the United States. In return, the United States was granted exclusive rights to use the islands of Micronesia as naval and military bases. A similar contract was renegotiated in 2003, this time for 20 years and $3.5 billion to be paid to Micronesia over to course of the contract.

While this compact has certainly been mutually beneficial, Micronesia has become dependent on foreign aid and investment, leaving their economy undiversified and the country unable to adapt to adverse situations, which is why it is now so important to figure out how to help people in Micronesia.

In 2016, Micronesia began to experience one of the worst droughts in the country’s recorded history. Many atolls and islands were ill prepared for this, having few catchments of water, often just enough for a few days or weeks. The drought, caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon, severely damaged Micronesia’s crops, which has led to food shortages.

It has become imperative to find out how to help people in Micronesia. Many organizations have been assisting the region, but help is needed. The International Organization for Migration has gathered significant funding from multiple sources and used such finding to provide clean water, technical training and relief from the worst effects of El Niño.

The United States, New Zealand and Australian governments have combined to donate roughly $240,000. While this is a good step and certainly one in the right direction, the people who were affected by the drought across Micronesia and the U.S. Marshall Islands are in need of more funding in order to recover.

Severe drought is one of the first signs of what is to be a continuous problem for Micronesia. The country is one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. The real answer to how to help people in Micronesia is not through short-term donations and provision of aid, though that is necessary and admirable in itself. Instead, the true solution can only be to work diligently to mitigate the effects of climate change for the sake of all nations, especially our less fortunate and more vulnerable neighbors.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Federated States of MicronesiaThe Federated States of Micronesia is a beautiful country with an interesting setup. The nation is composed of four island states with their own constitutions and legislatures. While this allows the four islands to maintain their own traditions and relative independence, it does make it difficult to coordinate the four states on national policy and reforms. Due to this, the states struggle to come to a consensus on issues and have not developed as well as they could have, leading to a reliance on development assistance and international aid. Unfortunately, the lack of development in Micronesia has also led to poverty concerns, with 41.2 percent of the population living below the national poverty line, which is one of the highest percentages of islands in the Pacific.

Although the nation has a promising economic outlook – the Asian Development Bank predicts that the economy will grow 2.5 percent between 2017 and 2018, following 3 percent growth in 2016 – poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia is still a concern. This is due to underdevelopment and the nation’s struggle for cohesion between the four states. These issues can be mitigated by new devotion to development. The local and national governments may have a limited capacity now, but there are ways to bring them together, namely by sharing industries. If the four islands have one or two main sources of industry or resources that they produce, then they will have something in common to negotiate about. Stable industries also help develop nations, so this solution would have multiple benefits.

Unfortunately, industry is limited in Micronesia, requiring the nation to rely on aid from the United States and international banking organizations such as the Asian Development Bank. The nation has few natural resources to export, and the fishing industry has become limited. One opportunity that has been taken in recent years is the development of water bottling plants. While this is not a long-term solution, plants such as these could be beneficial to the Micronesian people, who need access to jobs that are not reliant on the government.

Another concern that could lead to poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia is the threat of overfishing. As Pacific islands, there is a wealth of fishing opportunities, but overfishing has led to one of the only dependable resources suddenly becoming scarce. Without fishing, many citizens of Micronesia will lose a food source as well as job opportunities. Since fish are not as available, the fisheries will have to hire fewer workers, which is one of the causes of higher unemployment. In order to solve the issue of overfishing, the government of Micronesia needs to craft a policy that limits the amount each individual can fish per week, with strict fines for overfishing, and eventually even legal penalties. This would not only provide the incentive for citizens to behave in a more ecologically friendly way, but it would also help alleviate the overfishing issue, ultimately helping to decrease poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Ultimately, the deciding factor in Micronesia’s fight against poverty lies in the government’s hands. Having four distinct states with separate constitutions makes it difficult to bring the states together for meaningful change. In order to provide cohesion, Micronesia needs to establish a more centralized federal government with one constitution, allowing the states to have their own laws and history, but not their own country. This would encourage more international cooperation and help aid packages reach people in need, as well as bring the people of Micronesia together.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Micronesia Poverty Rate

According to the Asian Development Bank, the Micronesia poverty rate has reached 41.2 percent this year. Out of the Asian Pacific countries, it has the second highest poverty rate.

Additionally, while the percentage of the population that lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2000 was 46 percent, it declined to 17.4 in 2013, according to The World Bank. While the Micronesia poverty rate is seemingly high, the middle class has been expanding in recent years.

As of 2000, the richest 20 percent owned 65.9 percent of the wealth, while the middle classes owned about 27 percent of the wealth. In contrast, in 2013, the richest 20 percent owned about 48 percent of the wealth, while the middle class owned 37 percent. The poorest 20 percent have also increased their earnings from 1.4 percent of the wealth in 2000 to 5 percent in 2013.

The wealth inequality trend has also decreased in Micronesia in recent years. At 63.3 percent in 2000, the trend dropped to 42.5 percent in 2013. The Gross National Income (GNI) has increased around $100 from 2015 to 2016.

However, the GDP growth has slowed from 3.8 percent to around 2 percent in the past year. The decrease in growth was due to a drought in 2016, which led to water rationing, emergency shipments of water and increased health concerns. El Niño caused the drought itself.

Earning around $20 million annually, the fishing industry is the main source of income for Micronesia. The market value of tuna in the region is around $200 million per year, but Micronesians don’t take advantage of this resource. As of right now, agriculture is a vital component to the economy because of the contributions it makes to per capita income, export earnings and subsistence production. The agriculture and fishing industries make up 42 percent of the GDP for Micronesia.

To decrease the Micronesia poverty rate, there is promise in the tourism industry especially considering the abundance of marine and natural beauty. What is currently hindering the tourism industry, however, is the limited air transportation, land-use issues, and competition with surrounding islands of similar atmosphere.

Sydney Roeder

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in MicronesiaThe Federated States of Micronesia includes over 600 tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean, divided into four main states: Chuuk, Pohnpei, Yap, and Kosrae. Due to its island nature, the Federated States of Micronesia’s health situation does not change as often as more central countries’ might.

The leading causes of death in the Federated States of Micronesia have historically been endocrine and nutrition-related diseases; metabolic diseases like diabetes mellitus; diseases of the respiratory system like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and diseases of the circulatory system. Parasitic and infectious diseases in Micronesia are also a common cause of hospitalization.

The number of diseases in Micronesia preventable by vaccine has decreased in recent years, while waterborne and foodborne diseases, like typhoid, as cause for hospitalization have remained high. Dengue fever, hepatitis A, and Zika virus have all had random outbreaks in the Federated States of Micronesia over the years.

Zika is currently a very real risk in the Federated States of Micronesia, and pregnant women are advised not to travel there. Sexually transmitted infections are prevalent, along with leprosy, and a drug resistant tuberculosis. Chikungunya and Zika are both diseases carried by mosquitoes, making bug bite prevention a necessary step in staying healthy.

Each state in Micronesia has its own healthcare services, including a central hospital with at least the minimum primary and secondary level services available.

The development plan for the Federated States of Micronesia’s healthcare includes improving:

  • national environmental health
  • food and water sanitation
  • maternal and child health
  • controlling diabetes and cancer
  • controlling unhealthy substance abuse and tobacco use
  • mental health services
  • treating tuberculosis and other infectious endemic diseases
  • hospital preparedness.

The Federated States of Micronesia is a tiny nation in the middle of a vast ocean, with a population of 104,196 as of 2017. It faces risk from diseases that many other countries do, though there is less risk of said diseases spreading to other countries.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands spread over one million square miles in the Pacific Ocean. Here are eight facts about Micronesian refugees you should know:

  1. The U.S. occupied and administered the FSM from 1947 to 1979. During this time, the FSM’s population grew significantly due to the introduction of modern medicine. The U.S. also developed a wage economy in the FSM, encouraging Micronesians to migrate to population centers in search of work.
  2. When the FSM declared independence in 1979, the U.S. dramatically reduced the funds it contributed to the Micronesian economy, which shrunk the FSM and forced many Micronesians to return to their home islands. However, there remained on the islands a large population of skilled, educated and mobile individuals.
  3. The majority of Micronesian refugees today come to the U.S., specifically to Hawaii. This immigration pattern began in 1986 when the FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. This gave Micronesians the right to freely migrate to the U.S. and to significant economic aid in exchange for the use of Micronesia’s extensive territory as military testing grounds.
  4. The U.S. tested nuclear weapons in Micronesia before signing the Compact without the FSM’s consent. In 1946, the U.S. informed the inhabitants of Bikini Atoll that they would have to relocate. Over 12 years the U.S. detonated bombs on the Marshall Islands, leaving behind radiation equal in scale to 7,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. The residents of Bikini Atoll were never able to re-inhabit their home.
  5. Some of the aid and protections given to Micronesians under the Compact have rolled back. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed a bill that cut off Micronesians’ access to Medicaid and food stamps.
  6. This rollback has hit Micronesians hard, as a disproportionate number of refugees living in Hawaii are homeless and unsheltered; Hawaii has the highest cost of living of any state in the U.S. Additionally, the FSM has the highest rate of diabetes in the world. The reason many refugees come to the U.S. in the first place is for access to more comprehensive health care.
  7. Despite the fact that Micronesian refugees pay taxes to the U.S. and volunteer for the military at twice the rate of American citizens, they cannot vote. As a result, many Micronesians feel the government treats them unfairly.
  8. Currently, most of the Marshall Islands (part of Micronesia) are less than six feet above sea level. Rising sea levels will likely spur waves of refugees to immigrate to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland in the near future, making it essential that the U.S. government address present and future living conditions of Micronesian refugees in the U.S.

It is important to keep these eight facts about Micronesian refugees in mind in the face of an administration that has so far proven itself unsympathetic to the plights of refugees from Mexico and Syria. Micronesian refugees have not received as much media attention as those of refugees from the aforementioned countries, but aid is still needed for those who flee Micronesia.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Micronesia
Poverty in Micronesia? The lush beauty of the tropical island group known as Micronesia implies a paradise of plenty, yet the Federated States of Micronesia remains a nation burdened by poverty. Here are five facts about poverty in Micronesia:

  1. Nearly one in five people live on less than $2 a day. Though the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of an impressive 607 separate islands across its four major states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, the population totals approximately 100,000. As of 2013, over 17 percent of the population lived on just $1.90 a day, well below the poverty line.
  2. Malnutrition is a major contributing factor. A lack of variety in available foods results in hunger, especially among children, and impedes the opportunity for citizens to rise above poverty in Micronesia. Many families rely on a local diet full of processed meats, canned fish, and carbohydrate-heavy produce such as breadfruit and yams, resulting in malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20 percent of pregnant women are anemic in the broader Pacific Island region where Micronesia lies. Sadly, 29 of every 1,000 babies born in Micronesia currently do not survive past their first year.
  3. The global definition of poverty may not apply. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi went on public record in September 2016 criticizing the United Nations’ current formula to measure poverty across the globe. This criticism stems from his consideration of the practical realities of life in the Pacific, in which it is common for young adults to have many children. He went so far as to say the existing figure of poverty, which is defined by an individual earning less than $400 per week, was “very stupid.” In response, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Group has appointed a dedicated committee to create a more appropriate replacement.
  4. A manufactured scarcity of resources is a leading cause. A drought in early 2016 caused the Asian Development Bank to lower the GDP projection for the Federated States of Micronesia to a mere two percent. Meanwhile, a broader problem of persistent societal disruption contributes to this slowing of growth. Initially examined in a 2004 study known as the Jenrok Report, life in the Pacific was described as a myriad of deficiencies. Overcrowding, contaminated ground wells and a lack of many home connections to a central water system cause sickness and contributed to poverty. Yet the Pacific governments consistently fail to spend all funds provided by other countries in foreign aid. This false scarcity shows that substantial improvement must be done at the administrative and infrastructural levels to provide for the people of Micronesia.
  5. Work is being done to improve it. The Salvation Army has worked tirelessly for more than two decades in the states of Pohnpei and Chuuk to reduce poverty, providing direct aid by supplying food and establishing social and spiritual development services. Another nonprofit organization, the USEAO, is headquartered in Seattle and was founded in 2013. They are similarly dedicated to improving the lives of citizens in Micronesia by contributing direct aid and concentrating on solving the problem of infant malnutrition.

Thanks in part to the efforts of organizations such as the Salvation Army and the USEAO, poverty-relief in Micronesia is improving. The Asian Development Bank GDP projection for the coming year is higher than 2016, and efforts to increase tourism in the Federated States of Micronesia show promise for a future where poverty is a thing of the past.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Nauru
Located 4,000 km from Sydney, Australia is the smallest island in the world, expanding out 21 square kilometers — this is Nauru. What was once the wealthiest nation on the planet is now in shambles. The country thrived on agriculture and phosphate mining; however, now that all of the phosphate resources were stripped from the island, what remains is a wasteland.

Because of the staggering descent into poverty in Nauru, which is desperate for money, the nation has traded in the phosphate business for migrants. In 2001, Nauru entered into an agreement with Australia in which Nauru would hold refugees trying to enter Australia in return for foreign aid.

How did the wealthiest nation become desperate for foreign aid? After seizing independence from Britain in 1968, the nation’s inhabitants grew extremely wealthy from exporting phosphate. On top of that, the government revoked taxes and gave its inhabitants monthly stipends.

This way of governing provided the people with no incentive to find jobs, start businesses or provide for the economy. The money that was propagated eroded in corruption and poorly executed distribution of investments. By 1980, all the phosphate was basically depleted from the island. Poverty in Nauru increased from there. Now, 80 percent of the island is covered in limestone pinnacles, making it uninhabitable and utterly useless.

Mining in Nauru not only destroyed the land, but also the coastal waters as it has been contaminated due to phosphate runoff. Not only is there poverty in Nauru, but also a serious health crisis. A nation that had once cultivated the land for fresh crops and fished, is now home to some of the most obese and sick people.

In 2007, the World Health Organization Report recounted 94.5 percent of Nauru’s inhabitants as being overweight and 71.7 as being obese. The life expectancy in Nauru is around 50, and Type II diabetes is more prevalent there than in any other place in the world. Most of the population now lives off of prefabricated food shipped from Australia.

Nauru has become dependent on foreign aid mainly from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. A Sydney University geosciences professor by the name of John Connell expressed his belief that the only long-run solution to this crisis is a complete relocation of Nauru’s inhabitants.

However, as of now, the nation is getting some of its income from selling passports to foreign nationals and taking in refugees other countries refuse. In hopes to help with the poverty in Nauru, in 2001, Australia set up the Nauru detention center and provided many of the nation’s inhabitants with jobs. In 2012, Australia set up a second facility, which sparked hope in hearts of the inhabitants — a hope for a better future.

Now that asylums are in high demand due to the excessive numbers of refugees, Nauru’s facilities have been in full swing; however, poverty in Nauru is still very much prevalent. Although it may seem like a dead end, it appears that Australia still insists on using Nauru’s detention center because it is refusing to admit more refugees. This nation’s unusual and destructive past has steered Nauru into an impasse, but the future of the small island still remains unclear.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr