Drought relief begins for outer Marshall Islands

4:05 pm on 30 June 2016

A Marshall Islands government vessel loaded with tonnes of drought relief has headed out to 10 remote atolls and two outer islands.

The government vessel MV Kwajalein  being loaded with drought relief food for  remote islands in the Marshalls.

The government vessel MV Kwajalein being loaded with drought relief food for remote islands in the Marshalls. Photo: Supplied / Hilary Hosia

Nearly 5,000 people are to receive food paid for by the US Agency for International Development.

'Moderately' affected islands were to receive 120 days worth of food assistance while 'severely' affected islands were to get enough food assistance for 210 days.

Most of the islands were in the north of the Marshall Islands and continued to experience adverse conditions from a drought which started last year.

Angela Saunders from the International Organization for Migration said the food was intended as relief for what had been lost in the drought by those who mainly relied on locally grown crops.

Ms Saunders said it was meant to get people through hard times and to avoid the disruption of local businesses.

She said the food had been bought through local vendors and included rice, mixed fruit and vegetables and cooking oil.

The relief came after the Marshalls government asked the U.S. Embassy to provide experts to conduct a study of the damage on the outer islands.

Hopes that drought relief will be enough

Ms Saunders expressed optimism that the drought relief would be enough to sustain people until they got back on their feet.

She said the supplies should last between four and seven months, with another assessment planned in five months.

"We'll have an expert come in again from the US government, an agricultural expert in partner with agricultural experts here in the Marshall Islands, to go and check on the situation to make sure it's still needed," she said.

"To ensure that things are recovering, so if we see that recovery is not happening as quickly as anticipated, we can then make adjustments.

Angela Saunders said the long range forecast indicated the drought could end in the near future.

A young Majuro child carries fresh water in buckets to his house.

A young Majuro child carries fresh water in buckets to his house. Photo: Hilary Hosia

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