20 Jun 2013

US declaration ramps up drought relief in Marshalls

1:37 pm on 20 June 2013

Disaster relief efforts in the north of the Marshall Islands are expected to be increased as a result of the United States president's disaster declaration last week.

Barack Obama made the declaration under the Compact of Free Association, in response to the severe drought affecting about 6,000 people on 15 atolls and islands.

Our correspondent Giff Johnson says the action opens up federal funding available for emergency relief and reconstruction assistance.

"The Marshall Islands government officials here involved in drought relief are anticipating a very stepped up US response. It definitely solves the immediate emergency situation that's developed over the last few months with the lack of rain on these really remote islands."

Giff Johnson says a longer term issue of the drought will be the effects on food supply, with a lot of vegetable and fruit crops damaged.

He says the government's estimated the relief effort so far has cost about 4.7 US million dollars.