The United Nations in Federated States of Micronesia
UN multi-country engagement in the Pacific is led by three Resident Coordinators and a Joint UN Country Team linked across three regional hubs, operating regionally out of Fiji, Micronesia, and Samoa. There are five Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) under the leadership of the Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) including Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu; four PICTs under the leadership of the Samoa MCO including Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau; and five PICTs under the Micronesia MCO, including Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau.
The United Nations Pacific Strategy 2018-2022 is a multi-country, outcome level, strategic framework that presents a coordinated approach to support the 14 PICTs across the Pacific. The six outcomes address strategic priorities that promote mutual accountability for development results in the Pacific, further Pacific to Pacific cooperation, and enable the targeting of valuable UN resources to areas where they are most needed.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a country spread across the western Pacific Ocean comprised of more than 600 islands, with a population of 113,815 people (World Bank, 2019). FSM is made up of four island states: Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap; each with their own governance systems and functions. The country is among the least urbanised in the Pacific and most Micronesians live on or near the coast.
A third of Micronesians live below the basic needs poverty line and poverty has increased in three out of four states in the past decade. Inequality varies greatly between the states. FSM’s economy is aid dependent with a rising trade deficit, due to increasing demand for imported food, clothing, and consumer goods. Around half of the workforce is involved in subsistence farming or fishing for their livelihoods and this figure is growing. Migration and a low fertility rate have resulted in negative population growth. Young people aged 10-14 are the single largest demographic group and face limited employment opportunities.
Complicated land tenure systems, a reliance on imported food and water during times of stress, lack of national planning, limited resourcing, and the remote nature of the islands make climate change a serious threat to all forms of development in FSM.
FSM has a mixed record on promoting gender equality, despite ratifying The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Women have the highest rate of unemployment in the country and there are currently no women national Members of Parliament. One in three women report experience of gender-based violence.
UN presence in FSM
The UN has been present in FSM since 1947, with 17 agencies implementing programs: FAO, IAEA, IFAD, ILO, IOM, UNCTAD, UNDP, UN Environment, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNISDR, UNOCHA, WFP, WHO, and WMO.
Development goals and objectives
The United Nations Pacific Strategy (UNPS) 2018-2022 is a five year strategic framework that outlines the collective response of the UN system to the development priorities in 14 Pacific Island countries and territories, including FSM, and supports governments and peoples in the Pacific to advance a localised response to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UNPS complements the FSM Strategic Development Plan 2004-2023, “Improving quality of life for all FSM people”; particularly in the areas of infrastructure development, gender equality, economic growth, food security, health and education.
National and state public health emergencies were declared between 31 January 2020 to 31 July 2020, and schools were closed in Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei states. FSM was operating at a ‘COVCON 4’ alert level; with a curfew in Yap state from 7pm to 6 am on weeknights, and restrictions on public gatherings. International flights were suspended, and borders were closed until 30 September 2020. Many Micronesians were stranded overseas in Hawaii and Guam.
The UN’s system-wide and multi-sectoral approach provides a coordinated and comprehensive response that complements the FSM government’s COVID-19 Response Framework through three targeted components.
- Health response: stop virus transmission and care for affected people Guided by the regional Joint Incident Management Team; the UN, led by WHO, is supporting FSM to prepare for COVID-19 identification, mitigation and containment including: technical assistance to government partners, procurement of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), capacity building of healthcare staff, and risk communications and community engagement. WHO and UNICEF procured 56 testing kits and 57,062 pieces of PPE including goggles, masks and gowns. Further supplies are being procured through the global COVID-19 Supply Chain System established by the UN Secretary-General’s Supply Chain Task Force. WHO supported national and state Emergency Operations Centres to develop COVID-19 policies and guidelines, and deployed three technical officers to support COVID-19 points of entry, case management, contact tracing, and infection and prevention control. WHO and IOM supported Pohnpei state to conduct a full-scale repatriation tabletop and field simulation exercise to assess readiness.
- Humanitarian response: address immediate multi-sectoral needs Under the Pacific Humanitarian Response Plan the UN supports FSM to respond to urgent humanitarian needs of those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority needs in FSM include safe water and sanitation, food security, nutrition and livelihoods, continued education for girls and boys, and protecting women and girls at increased risk of gender-based violence. UNICEF has increased access to safe water and sanitation for 4,905 households with soap, sanitary pads, handwashing stations and WASH School Kits; and provided essential nutritional supplements to 11,700 children, and 600 pregnant and lactating women. UNICEF has also reached 7,000 people with SMS alerts and 24,000 people through home visits to raise awareness of COVID-19. UNICEF and WFP have increased access to verified information on COVID-19 through a toll-free helpline accessed by more than 60 people.
- Socio-economic response: address immediate social and economic impact The UN reprogrammed US$9.1 million (42%) of programs and activities from a total of US$21.4 million from the 2020 UN FSM Joint Country Action Plan to increase support for the response to COVID-19, in consultation with the FSM government. A planned socio-economic impact assessment will identify vulnerabilities in FSM across five pillars of the UN Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 to guide response plans for the next 12-18 months; including health, social protection and basic services, economic recovery, macroeconomic response and multilateral collaboration. A regional report will be completed for FSM by September 2020. IOM and UNICEF received US$300,000 from the UN Secretary General’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support access to water and sanitation in healthcare facilities.
To visit the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) Multi-Country Office website, visit: https://pacific.un.org.
UN Micronesia Country Team
UN Key Documents
UNDAF/United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (CP)