San Francisco, February 2, 1999 -- In a combined effort to ease human suffering from last year's severe drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have provided monthly food shipments to the Federated States of Micronesia.
Native vegetation and food crops are recovering, and the crisis is over. Emergency food distribution among the islands, which lasted for nine months, ended with the January distribution.
On April 3, 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton declared a major disaster in the FSM, making the States of Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap eligible for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation help. While El Ni?o was bringing severe storms to parts of the mainland U.S. last year, the same weather phenomenon was causing record low rainfalls in many areas of the Pacific.
"The extended drought had destroyed crops in the FSM, drastically affecting people who were solely dependent upon subsistence farming," said William Carwile, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "Distribution of food and water supplies to island residents was one of our main concerns."
Approximately 57,000 people at 58 locations within the three states received assistance. Tons of dairy products, fruits, vegetables, flour and other edible commodities have been delivered to the affected islands. Over $9 million have been spent on food and shipping.
"We're gratified that this effort has greatly relieved a dreadful situation for thousands of people," said Carwile. "The staff from the Forest Service of USDA did an outstanding job of assisting the Micronesia government with the food distribution."