ADB’s Work in the Federated States of Micronesia
Responding to Unique Challenges
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is composed of four autonomous states spread across the Pacific. ADB has helped strengthen and connect state government institutions.
The FSM is unique. It is a country spread over four autonomous island states—Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap—in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Each state has its own constitution, elected legislature, and governor, and largely manages public service provisions.
A complex decision-making process, rooted in the political structure and geographical distance between the states, makes it difficult to coordinate and gain consensus on national reforms and programs. This has hampered effective use of development partner funds, despite the country’s high dependence on development assistance.
ADB has responded to these challenges by supporting good governance and focusing on economic management and accountability. ADB and the FSM are also working together to promote development of the country’s production potential and to encourage private sector involvement in the economy.
In the mid-2000s, ADB and the FSM began one of their most comprehensive and longstanding projects. The Omnibus Infrastructure Development Project, approved in 2004, has helped address sanitation, water, and power needs in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. As part of the project, Weno Island in Chuuk was connected to a 24-hour power supply and the sewerage system in Kolonia, Pohnpei was rehabilitated. The communities of Utwe in Kosrae as well as those of Maap, Tomil, and Gagil in Yap were also given improved access to clean water.
The $4.68 million Yap Renewable Energy Development Project, approved in 2013, helped reduce Yap’s dependency on imported diesel through the development of renewable energy sources and greater energy efficiency in the electricity grid. The project also supported efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Yap power agency.
"ADB’s assistance—in collaboration with the United States Government through the Compact of Free Association, under the Omnibus Infrastructure Development Project and the Weno Water Supply Well Remediation Project—has significantly contributed to improved electricity, water, and sewerage services in Weno."
Innovation for education
Historically, Pacific island countries uphold oral traditions more than reading and writing. Assessments of North Pacific island primary students have shown that their reading and mathematics proficiencies were below Pacific regional benchmarks.
ADB and the FSM also partnered on the use of an innovative new education tool to boost literacy and numeracy development. The 2012 Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific Project piloted an Early Grade Learning Assessment instrument at eight schools in Kosrae and Pohnpei states with very positive results. ADB expects to scale up this approach to more schools across the country under a new comprehensive education grant.
“Unlike typical standardized tests, the Early Grade Learning Assessment is a diagnostic tool that gives us detailed information on student performance weaknesses, which can be addressed through targeted teacher training and learning resources,” says Chimi Thonden, ADB Pacific Department education specialist. “Confronting these obstacles to learning in the early grades is critical to enabling more students to succeed through their school career.”
The Early Grade Learning Assessment tool incorporates a one-on-one student assessment system that provides detailed data on where students are in literacy and numeracy at grades 3 and 5. It is also the only bilingual assessment instrument in the Pacific.
Data generated by the tool is also used to train teachers and increase collaboration between administrators, teachers, and students. The results of schools in the pilot project show that the percentage of proficient to advanced readers increased by an average of 21%, while advanced numeracy was up by 19%. Today, ADB and the FSM are focusing on building the country’s economy as it prepares for the reduction in external assistance provided by a long-standing agreement with the United States, called the Compact of Free Association. The emphasis is on improving government finances and boosting economic growth, with work also geared to promoting renewable energy.
This article was originally published in a special edition of Together We Deliver, which tells 50 stories highlighting the importance of good partnerships in Asia and the Pacific in meeting the complex development challenges of this dynamic region.