Marshall Islands, Republic of

USAID partners with IOM to provide humanitarian assistance in RMI.
USAID partners with IOM to provide humanitarian assistance in RMI.

Key Developments

Below-average rainfall since October 2015—exacerbated by El Niño—has resulted in drought conditions and water shortages across the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). In early March 2016, local government officials reported that the majority of water tanks on affected islands were nearly empty, and most well water had become undrinkable due to high salinity levels. As of March 9, more than 12,000 people in RMI were experiencing severe drought conditions, while an additional 3,500 people are expected to experience moderate drought conditions in the coming months, according to the UN. The Government of RMI declared a national disaster on March 10 due to the drought and is coordinating humanitarian relief activities, including distribution of safe drinking water and deployment of reverse osmosis units to the most severely affected atolls.

On March 10, 2016, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Sarah A. Nelson declared a disaster due to the effects of the drought in RMI. In response, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) allocated $50,000 to the International Organization for Migration to provide logistics support, relief commodities, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance to affected populations.


In November 2008, USAID assumed responsibility for disaster response and reconstruction in RMI and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reflecting the transition of FSM and RMI from U.S.-administered trust territories to independent countries. USAID and FEMA developed an Operational Blueprint to provide a framework for U.S. Government disaster response and reconstruction in the two countries, under which USAID maintains FEMA’s previous commitment to supplement host government disaster response efforts in the aftermath of significant disasters. USAID/OFDA collaborates closely with FEMA, as well as with USAID/Philippines and USAID’s Asia Bureau, to provide humanitarian assistance in FSM and RMI.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: January 25, 2018

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