Chuuk islands report food shortage

by Scott Radway

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News): March 19, 2002 - An island group in Chuuk State is low on food after being hit by recent storms and has asked Guam for relief, said an official at the University of Guam.

Bruce Best, manager of the university's PEACE Satellite outreach program, said outer island leaders said via the satellite/radio communication system that their taro patches have been filled with saltwater and both breadfruit and banana stocks were destroyed.

"They said they don't have enough food," Best said.

The island group called the Halls has a population of about 1,000, said Best, who enlisted the help of the Ayuda Foundation to deliver supplies to the affected islands.

Best added financial difficulties in Chuuk have made trips from the main island to the outer islands rare. Chuuk State is part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Shannon Murphy, Ayuda Foundation co-executive director, said her organization contacted the local military and the FSM Consulate on Guam to begin coordinating a relief effort for the islands. Today, Ayuda and FSM officials are expected to talk with the Chuuk leaders -- using PEACE satellite equipment -- to determine the exact extent of the food shortage, she added.

"We want to understand first-hand what their problem is," Murphy said, adding Ayuda also is working to get supplies to some Yap State outer islands devastated by a recent typhoon. Yap also is part of the Federated States of Micronesia.