Red Cross Launches On-Site Drought Aid In Marshall Islands
About 6,400 people reportedly affected by sever lack of rain
SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 14, 2013) – The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) program has launched a significant drought relief effort in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and expects to have officials on site for six months despite the fact that the RMI lacks a national Red Cross Society, according to Australian Red Cross official Peter McArdle. There is a push by a volunteer group locally, led by Dr. Alex Pinano, to establish a Red Cross in the RMI. This group, together with the RMI government, requested Red Cross assistance for the drought, and the IFRC responded quickly. The IFRC, New Zealand Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, and Kiribati Red Cross Society are working together to provide assistance to the Marshalls where about 6,400 people on 15 atolls are suffering as a result of six months with virtually no rain. McArdle said Red Cross is partnering with government to deliver immediate drought assistance to affected northern islands. Once the immediate issue of water and food is resolved, the Red Cross will move into its “recovery and preparedness phase,” he said. He indicated in the long term, low-tech solutions such as solar distillation and improving water-storage capacity are key to surviving future droughts.