Drought Response on Aur Atoll Demonstrates the Strengths and Weakness of Drought Relief

The inconsistent availability of air support provided by the sole Air Marshall Islands aircraft means air access (the “air bridge”) to all drought affected areas has been challenging as the government of the RMI has been reluctant to allow air operations into the country other than Air Marshall Islands.  Nevertheless, IOM with support from USAID/OFDA and the US Embassy received entry permission. Air support contractor Chapman Freeborn (CF), along with a 13 passenger Beech King Air 200 aircraft arrived Majuro on August 22, 2013.   CF is providing air operations during a 14 day period, allowing rapid transport and mobilization of technical teams. The effort, though will cost the USAID Air Charter Services $257,000, exhausting the fund.   There is evidence that agriculture and water availability conditions on Aur have improved since the return of nearly seasonal rainfall, justifying the “moderate” damage/vulnerability classification provided by the PDA subject matter experts.