Poverty in Micronesia
Poverty in The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a complex issue that requires dynamic solutions. The lack of jobs, vocational training, education, agricultural land and an aging population are all contributing factors to the high poverty rate on the island chain. The median household income of the nations’ 112,000 people was roughly $7,336 as of 2019, primarily earned in the agriculture, fishing and tourism industries. Poverty figures can vary wildly in rural islands and atolls. Luckily, there are several innovations working toward eradicating poverty in Micronesia.

The FSM has been gathering data and implementing programs to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the early results of which reports determined in 2011: “… the FSM is on track to achieving MDGs for universal primary education, ensuring environmental sustainability and strengthened global partnership for development by 2015. While progress is expected on gender equality and empowerment of women, child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, the FSM is unlikely to eradicate poverty and improve maternal health.”

The following list of partnerships are working with the citizens and local governments to make eradicating poverty in Micronesia a reality.

Yap Renewable Energy Development Project

The Yap Renewable Energy Development Project (YREDP) is a program in FSM with the aim of building and maintaining renewable energy sources. Solar and wind power projects will provide jobs and training to local workers, reducing several factors indicative of poverty. The YREDP continually emphasizes the employment and training of local unskilled or under-employed workers, providing long term job opportunities further improving the local economy. Stable incomes and increased cash flow to workers’ families provides the economic foundation for future infrastructure that will utilize the renewable energy the YREDP aims to provide.

A stable supply of renewable energy allows people to accurately budget for utilities, limiting interruptions to food storage, education and healthcare. The environmental impact of renewable energy is also a factor in eradicating poverty in Micronesia. Environmental challenges are particularly challenging for Micronesia with 3,798 miles of coastline vulnerable to rising sea-levels.

The Establishment Agreement

The Establishment Agreement is a plan to increase the partnership between FSM and The World Bank, with the aim of helping the country meet its development goals in finances, energy, education and healthcare through technology and financial cooperation.

Proposed technological infrastructure improvements such as The Digital States of Micronesia will increase access to the internet. This will increase economic opportunities by decreasing the effects of geological isolation of FSM. The plan proposes methods to increase access to the internet by laying down terrestrial fiber infrastructure throughout FSM, enabling the efficient operation to both private and public sectors.

The increasing financial involvement of The World Bank outlined in The Establishment Agreement will help government offices by incorporating logistical solutions into previously slow processes like the granting of licenses and access to vital records. As the country invests in its infrastructure, connectivity improvements will provide the technological backing necessary to modernize education, vocational training and small businesses.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Country Program

The Green Climate Fund Country Program focuses on sponsoring and planning environmentally-friendly infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The GCF Country Program covers 13 projects and programs amounting to $1.4 billion in resources. This money goes towards aiding environmental conservation, public transportation infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, health, education and water supply management.

FSM faces environmental risks such as variable climate shifts from drought to extreme rainfall (El Nino and La Nina, respectively). The country is also geographically vulnerable to high swells, storm surges and typhoons. The impacts of environmental challenges in FSM are far-reaching, necessitating investments into innovative solutions as the country develops.

The Micronesian Conservation Trust is one program that works with the GCF to create and manage climate adaptation measures and resource management. Its work provides long term outcomes that preserve the environment while fostering sustainability. The focus on this type of infrastructure development aids in decreasing factors that contribute to poverty in Micronesia such as natural disasters, resource depletion and interruption of government resources by supporting measures that create jobs, provide clean water and outline plans for sustainable agriculture.

Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr