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

Poverty in SamoaPoverty in Samoa is very different compared to poverty in a lot of other countries because Samoa has one of the most stable and healthy economies in the Pacific Region. Poverty is more prevalently seen in the rural communities of Samoa. These communities have unequal opportunity and distribution of benefits compared to Samoa’s urban areas, causing 26.9% of Samoans to live below the national poverty line.

5 Things to Know About Poverty in Samoa

  1. Many of the poor and rural areas of Samoa are in remote parts of the island that are tormented by cyclones and other harsh natural disasters. These natural disasters constitute a major threat to fishing and farming communities. Oftentimes, the damage done makes for very slow recovery time, meaning a drop in income for individuals in the rural fishing and farming communities.
  2. Gender and age inequality plays a substantial role in the lives of women and young individuals in Samoa, especially in the more impoverished areas. These disadvantages cause families who need to rely on the woman or children to work at a lower of income. Often times women, children and young adults do not have the same opportunities for work as grown men do and are typically paid much less, making survival that much more difficult.
  3. Samoa also suffers from agricultural issues. It’s narrow resource base and shallow soils are very vulnerable to erosion. Along with it’s declining forestry resources, Samoa is a, sometimes, difficult place for islanders to make a stable income in the agricultural industry. Because many Samoans in rural communities are in this industry, there is a seemingly unending cycle of poverty.
  4. In Samoa, only 29.4% of the population aged 15 years and older are employed. Jobs are slim all throughout the island, but especially slim in the rural areas. In rural areas, families survive on one of two options: subsistence farming or simply rely on a family overseas to send them money.
  5. There are many sanitary, health and educational needs that are not met in Samoa’s rural communities. Access to education, hospitals, clean water and other resources are very hard to come by. In 2011, it was found that 25 percent of Samoans do not have access to clean drinking water. It was also found that the education gap between children in urban and rural communities was very wide, resulting in rural children only obtaining farming jobs and therefore remaining in poverty.

The number of impoverished individuals in such a stable economy such as Samoa is quite rare. To end poverty in Samoa, especially for those living in rural areas, new jobs and better farming techniques must be implemented. If the island works together, one day Samoa’s economic gap will narrow and create a much better future for their population.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr