The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”. However, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions pose less frequent threats to the country than typhoons, droughts, and landslides. FSMs are also vulnerable to epidemic diseases, fires and sea level rise. Indeed, climate change is already causing sea level rise and FSM populations are already experiencing potable water scarcity and food insecurity.
In addition to sea level rise, climate change affects air and ocean temperature changes as well as ocean acidification will affect fisheries while extreme events can damage marine, air and telecommunications infrastructure.
Most of the FSM population lives near the coast. Thus, critical infrastructure is primarily located in coastal areas, which are threatened by sea level rise and typhoons. While roads are crucial for transportation on the islands, sea and air links provide hubs for inter-island and international travel and trade. All these links are under intense stress under normal conditions. When a disaster strikes, already strained transportation links can be further disrupted because they are damaged or have insufficient capacity to handle the influx of people and goods.
Due to exposure to hazards and potential increased vulnerability to various climate change scenarios, the country has launched a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) program that identifies responsibilities for both government and communities.
Apart from providing political guidance in the form of policy development, the National Disaster Committee (NDC) acts as a coordinating body in the field of disasters. The primary decision-making responsibility rests with the President, who can declare a state of calamity at the request of the state governor. Each governor has primary decision-making powers for preparedness and response while state disaster committees are responsible for providing overall management of disaster planning and response. Below the state level are local disaster management committees and local traditional leaders. During disasters, operations are conducted through National and State Emergency Operations Centers (NEOC and SEOC). Alongside government structures, a network of international organizations, national stakeholders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operates. It is coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and overseen by the United Nations (UN).
Under the Compact of Free Association (COFA) between the United States (US) and FSM, the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance of the US Agency for International Development (USAID/BHA) and the US
The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed an operational blueprint, which guides humanitarian assistance in the event of a significant disaster in the FSM. USAID/BHA supports life-saving operations in response to natural disasters and provides technical assistance to coordinate response and initial recovery activities. The USAID-FEMA hybrid approach provides the majority of funding for disaster management and reconstruction. The approach is to strengthen the capacity of first responder agencies, develop and expand end-to-end early warning systems, and improve preparedness in at-risk communities. Early warning and weather services are supported by the US National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Moreover, the United States has full authority and responsibility in defense and security matters. In the event of a disaster or other emergency for which both FSM authorities and the US Embassy in the FSM recognize a need, various US government agencies may provide assistance to the FSM.