IOM in the North Pacific at a Glance

IOM established its first office in the region in Majuro in May 2009. The opening of the sub-regional Head Office in Pohnpei followed a few months later. The FSM has been a member state since December 2011 and the RMI acceded to membership on 26 November, 2013.

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PRESS BRIEFING NOTE

For immediate release – 6/17/2014

Micronesian Girls Prove their Power in a Disaster Response Challenge.

Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a proud tradition of the Peace Corps in Micronesia and around the world, encourages self-confidence and challenges campers to think beyond traditional gender roles.  A camp was held from May 9 - 11 at Pohnpei Agricultural and Technical Institute (PATS) in Madolenhimw municipality; followed by a second camp June 13 – 15 at Nihco Marine Park in Sokehs municipality. Both camps were conducted with funding from the USAID Small Project Assistance (SPA) grant and included collaboration between the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Peace Corps Volunteers.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in May and a bright Saturday afternoon in June, the 120 young girls signed up for Camp GLOW faced a “Disaster Response Educational Challenge.” IOM trainers implementing activities under the CADRE and PREPARE programs across the country facilitated sessions on natural disaster preparedness, for hazard events such as landslides, droughts, and wave inundations.

The Challenge required campers to complete 4 main activities: (1) starting a generator; (2) constructing a solar still capable of transforming salt water into freshwater with energy from the sun; (3) relaying a message using phonetic letter code (often used by emergency services); and (4) completing a landslide mini lab. The sleepless night before did not stop the campers from accepting and accomplishing the various challenges.  One camper was heard exclaiming “I feel strong and like I could really help others in a disaster situation.”

All the girls left camp a little tired but very proud of their achievements and to ensure their ongoing learning IOM provided all of them with their complete series of colorful and engaging brochures and comics on disaster preparedness in Micronesia. The Challenge was an effort to build the resilience and awareness of young girls in the face of natural disasters and will mean 120 more future leaders are more equipped to assist their communities in the face of our extreme planet.

For more information on IOM disaster preparedness activities visit a local IOM office, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.micronesia.iom.int 

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Analysis:

The small island developing states of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) directly face climate change challenges. Impacts of notable concern in Pohnpei include: extreme temperatures, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and heavy rainfall leading to flooding and landslides. Youth form a large demographic, with approximately 50% of the FSM population under the age of 18.

According to the Brookings Institute, women and girls comprise more than half of the 200 million people affected annually by natural disasters, and females are typically more at risk from natural hazards. This is especially the case in low-income countries and among lower socio-economic status groups. There are many reasons why females are disproportionately impacted as a result of natural disasters. The World Bank notes, in a study of East Asia and the Pacific: societal perception that men are physically stronger; likelihood that man is head of household; greater access of men to disaster information, survival skills and related training; male-dominated community leadership; and resource allocation.

It is for these reasons that IOM strives to raise girls’ resilience to respond to disasters. More importantly, IOM wants girls to view themselves as self-reliant in emergency situations and equally capable of helping others.

         Kate McDermott, Program Officer (Ed), IOM Micronesia & Mark Adams, Chief of Party/ PREPARE, IOM Micronesia

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