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Thursday, March 17, 2016
Interior Department Funds American Samoa ‘Self-Determination’
By News Release @ 11:50 PM :: 2500 Views :: Akaka Bill

Interior Approves $1.8 Million in FY 2016 Funds for American Samoa

For Self-Determination Educational Outreach, Climate Change Adaptation and Strategic Planning, Health Prevention Efforts against Zika and Dengue, Gastroenterology and other Workforce Development Training

News Release from US Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2016) – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina today approved $1.8 million in grant assistance for fiscal year 2016 to the Government of American Samoa from the Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) and the Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP).

“This year’s funding reflects the priorities and needs of the people of American Samoa including self-determination, climate change adaptation, addressing threats to public health, and workforce development both in areas of health and public works,” said Assistant Secretary Kia’aina.  “I am particularly pleased that we can support Governor Lolo Moliga, American Samoa’s leadership, and the community in their efforts to advance political status options and climate change adaptation and resiliency initiatives.”

The various TAP grants, including two MAP grants awarded for 2016 are as follow:

American Samoa Constitutional and Political Status Review – $300,000 to the Office of Samoan Affairs to establish the American Samoa Constitutional and Political Status Review Office. This Office will liaise, advise, and collaborate with the Legislature of American Samoa on amendments to the Constitution of American Samoa and serve as a capacity building initiative focused on exploring possible political status with a full measure of self-governance and educating the community on these options.

Developing a Territorial Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Implementation Plan$339,390 to the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources to create a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, to identify and prioritize immediate actions American Samoa needs to take to best adapt to climate change impacts. As part of this strategy, a climate change portal and database will be created and a territorial climate change summit will be held.

Territorial Integrated Geospatial Framework – $250,994 to the American Samoa Departments of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a centralized Geographical Information Service (GIS) server for all government agencies in the Territory. This comprehensive repository will hold geospatial information and serve as a tool to analyze and visualize data to more effectively understand and predict the effects of climate change and to aid in adaptation planning.

Vulnerability Assessments of Urban Systems and Infrastructure – $222,500 to the Department of Public Works to identify key infrastructure, their functions and status in order to provide an overall picture of vulnerabilities to climate-related stress and induced events in the territory. This evaluation of existing critical infrastructure will enable long-term transportation planning and help in the systematic prioritization of adaptation and planning, as well as the appropriation of resources.

Improving Capacity to Respond to Emerging Mosquito-Borne Disease – $217,004 to the Department of Health to provide the equipment to remove and mitigate accumulated mosquito breeding sites in the community, such as tires, scrap vehicles and metals, and provide vector-borne disease prevention training to the community.  Located in the tropics, American Samoa has seen threats from numerous arboviruses such as lymphatic filariasis, more commonly known as elephantiasis, dengue, chikungunya and more recently Zika.

Gastroenterology Procedures Training – $140, 312 to LBJ Tropical Medical Center to improve the clinical capability of its staff by engaging the services of the gastroenterology team to consult on on-island trainings in necessary medical and surgical gastroenterology procedures, and sending LBJ Tropical Medical Center surgeons and technicians to the Straub Clinic and Hospital, a recognized training facility in Honolulu, where they can observe a high volume of these specialized procedures and techniques, which will be used at LBJ. This project will culminate in the evaluation of the skills and proficiencies of the participants.

Certified Ophthalmic Assistants Training – $34,750 to LBJ Tropical Medical Center for the training of technicians  and certification as Certified Ophthalmic Assistants, to improve the efficiency and quality of practice at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center Eye Clinic, so that they may better serve the increasing patient load in a changing, technology-driven health care environment.

MAP Grants

Professional Training and Apprenticeship Program – $125,000 to the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), for their capacity building program that develops engineers and technical personnel critical to ASPA’s operation and to improve services, deal with climate change and comply with Federal regulations. Professional education and licensure will be provided for power system engineers, water/wastewater civil engineers, energy technology engineers, electricians and electronic technicians, and power linemen.

Well Operator Professional Certification Training – $124,500 to ASPA to provide the necessary training to operate and maintain the drilling equipment and other new technologies required to develop American Samoa’s limited water resources. This program will help ASPA’s drillers qualify for EPA regulatory required certification and will allow the trained drillers to use these new skills to develop geothermal wells, a necessary component of ASPA’s geothermal efforts.

The Department of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association.  The Office of Insular Affairs mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.

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