Outer island communities in RMI securing food resources ahead of drought

Drought in the Marshall Islands

The 2015-2016 drought in RMI is estimated to have had an economic impact of approximately USD 4.9 million, with the agriculture sector the most severely
impacted. Coconut plays a central role, as the primary outer island cash income source (through copra sales), as a source of foreign exchange (through
coconut oil exports) and as an important food.

The northern atolls in RMI are historically the most vulnerable to drought and are classified as RMI’s Drought Zone 1. In addition, these atolls are the
furthest from the capital, Majuro, and getting emergency supplies to these atolls during periods of extended drought is extremely challenging because of the
distances involve


Project amount 

€ 4.5 million (for RMI, FSM, & Palau) funded by the European Union

Project timeframe  

6 July 2017 - 31 October 2020

Implementing agencies

Ministry of Natural Resources &
National Disaster Management Office
Ministry of Culture and Internal Affairs
The Pacific Community (SPC)


Direct benefit: 1,059 persons
               Indirect benefit: 1,605 persons

RENI project in the Marshall Islands

The RENI project in RMI will focus on food security, recognising that this will involve also addressing some aspects of water security. Emphasis will be placed on trialing new food security measures to increase the availability of local food crops, expand the use of drought resistant crop varieties, improve soil management practices, and establish nurseries.

The project will incorporate a multi sector, participatory and community-led approach throughout the design and implementation with a particular emphasis on applying a gender-sensitive/rights-based approach throughout.

The RMI government is using the opportunities provided by the RENI project to trial the re-establishment of agricultural activities in the northern atolls. In the past subsistence agriculture was an important activity in the outer atolls, but has declined in recent years as a result of a general trend away from agriculture to other forms of employment and the availability of convenient processed food. RENI will provide an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience about enhancing food security in RMI.

The government has selected two atolls for focus in the RENI project: Ailuk, with a population of 352 persons and a rural environment, and Santo-Kwajalein, with a population of 707 persons and a semi-urban environment. The project will also share experiences learnt with four other northern atolls: Enewetek, Mejit, Wotho and Utrik.