On Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Nik Pula and two Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) division directors hosted the visit of the Honorable Jack Ading, Marshall Islands Minister of Finance, and the Honorable Jackson Ading, Mayor of Enewetak Atoll, and their counsel, Davor Pevec, Esq., of Redondo Beach, Calfornia, and Honolulu.
The Minister represents the people of Enewetak Atoll in the thirty-three member Marshall Islands Nitijela. Mr. Pula, Joseph McDermott, Director of Policy and Tom Bussanich, Director of Budget and Grants, were pleased to receive the Minister's and the Mayor's report on the good progress that the people of Enewetak continue to make in both Enewetak Island and Medren Island, the atoll's two principal population centers.
Annually OIA provides more than five hundred thousand (500,000) dollars to the people of Enewetak Atoll to support their efforts to improve their food and agriculture.
The atoll's natural vegetation was largely destroyed during the Allied liberation of the Marshall Islands in 1944 and the nuclear testing program conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense 1946-58.
Following the clean-up and resettlement of Enewetak and Medren Islands, food-bearing trees and crops had to be replanted. However, the islands' depleted soil has made agriculture difficult.
Consequently, for more than two decades OIA has supplemented the efforts of atoll residents by providing funds to replant vegetation, to provide agricultural maintenance and to pay for the transportation of foodstuffs for atoll residents.