Kolonia, Pohnpei: January 23, 2024 – In a gesture of diplomatic goodwill and collaboration, Her Excellency Jo Cowley, the Australian Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, accompanied by Second Secretary and Consul Rachelle Wood, recently paid a courtesy call upon Governor Stevenson A. Joseph. The meeting, held at the Governor’s temporary office, served as an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations and discuss shared priorities.

Governor Joseph was joined by Ms. Shirley Ann Ligohr, Overseas Development Assistance Coordinator, in extending a warm welcome to Ambassador Cowley and Second Secretary Wood. The discussions during the courtesy call centered around the pressing issues faced by Pohnpei State and the potential avenues for collaboration with the Australian Embassy.

One of the key points of conversation was Governor Joseph’s administration priorities. He highlighted the need for a reorganization of the executive branch to better align and complement relevant functions of the government. Additionally, Governor Joseph emphasized the importance of Food Security, not only for subsistence but also as a means to reduce dependence on processed and imported foods.

Addressing the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) epidemic was another critical priority shared by Governor Joseph. He likened the current situation to a forest fire that is out of control, stressing the importance of preventive measures for the benefit of future generations. The emphasis was on proactive health strategies rather than curative actions.

Education emerged as another priority that Governor Joseph and Ambassador Cowley briefly explored, along with the current emergency declaration. Ambassador Cowley brought to Governor Joseph’s attention the imminent arrival of an Australian Humanitarian ship in early February, carrying approximately 50 thousand gallons of water to assist Pohnpei. Governor Joseph expressed his appreciation and noted the timing of the assistance, particularly for the Southern outer Islands where reports have been received on rising tides and seawater inundation affecting crops and water sources.

Ambassador Cowley provided insights into various Australian government programs and initiatives during the courtesy call. These included the patrol boat program, the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility supporting mini-grid setups for electricity in Chuuk, and plans to extend the project to Pohnpei’s outer islands – a development that Governor Joseph welcomed with appreciation.

Moreover, Ambassador Cowley highlighted the support for the Air Nauru service, financially backed by the Australian Government, and shared details about the upcoming East Micronesia Cable project that will provide faster, high quality, and more reliable services across three countries with Pohnpei as the hub. She also discussed gender equality programs, including the establishment of a referral office for women.

The Australia Awards program was also discussed with Governor Joseph expressing gratitude for the many Pohnpeians who have been educated as a result of Australian scholarships. The Embassy’s community grant programs and scholarship opportunities were also discussed with assistance to help disseminate the information to the public.

The courtesy call exemplified our strong partnership, showcasing a shared commitment to addressing critical challenges and fostering sustainable development


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