“Be a good ‘jellimaan,’” Iroijlaplap Patrick Lein Zedkaia said to the 22 mayors present during the opening of the 25th Annual Conference of the Marshall Islands Mayors Association (MIMA) at the International Conference Center (ICC) Monday.
Zedkaia explained that a “jellimaan” is the man in the crow’s nest or lookout point near the top of a mast. This man is responsible for providing good direction to the captain and ship. Zedkaia urged the mayors to not shirk the “jellimaan” role otherwise things may end like the “Titanic,” which sunk causing great suffering.
RMI President Hilda Heine announced that the recent Cabinet retreat came up with the Agenda 2020 that aims at addressing current issues facing the RMI. She offered some sneak peaks at Agenda 2020, although it is not yet official, so the mayors could have an idea of national government objectives.
She stated that people migrating out of the outer islands to Majuro and beyond has been a serious problem. People are leaving their islands even though living standards have improved. Solar systems have been provided to homes in the outer islands. Water catchments are on the list for distribution, hopefully starting next year, since providing reverse osmosis water making machines for the drought this year cost the government a lot. “Every community must have water catchments,” she said.
Surely more development is needed to ensure better well-being for the local Marshallese. For example most outer islands live off copra farming. Copra production has reached higher tonnage than in the past. Yet people have a hard time getting paid for their copra. The financing situation needs to improve so people can earn their living, the President said.
Handicraft making, food resources such as breadfruit, coconuts, pandanus, and other local produce, and fish, pigs, and other animals, also needs developing. Heine explained that the RMI needs to start adding value to products. Other countries are marketing sugar made from coconuts. This is an example of value added to a product, she said.
The main item of the opening was the election of new Marshall Islands Mayors Association (MIMA) executives. Results from the election had Alinton Robert from Jaluit as Treasurer, Veronica Wase from Likiep as Secretary, Manini Kabua Jr. from Namu as Vice President, and Ota Kisino from Wotje as President.
Read more about this in the July 8, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.