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Marshall Islands

Ailinglaplap Atoll

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Conservation benefit: 121-acre marine protected area for 10 years

Community benefit: Basketball court and solar lighting

Date Approved: 02.2016

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Buoj Island is one of 56 islands that make up Ailinglaplap Atoll. The community there has proposed making 121 acres of ocean a no-take zone for 10 years. This area, at one of the passes in the atoll, is home to many fish species, including the endangered Napoleon wrasse, as well as dolphins, sea turtles, rays, lobsters, crabs, and sea urchins. The island’s leadership have stated a strong commitment to the proposed MPA.

The community seeks a grant for a combined basketball and volleyball court, lit by six solar-powered lights. Although basketball is very popular across Micronesia, there is no court on Ailinglaplap Atoll. The community plans to organize tournaments for island youth and for teams from neighboring small islands.

Building a court is a creative and much-needed way to tackle obesity and related diseases such as diabetes, which are a scourge in the South Pacific. The region has the highest rate of diabetes in the world—in the Marshalls, it affects almost half of the population over age 35. A lighted court will encourage valuable exercise, especially among boys and girls. The space will also serve as a site for community meetings and celebrations.

Project Updates

May 2018

An official opening event was held with government officials (some of whom flew in from Majuro), traditional leaders, and members of all the local communities in attendance. The ceremony began around sunset and was followed by games on the court. The timing highlights the importance of the lights: It is so hot in the daytime that people tend to rest during the day and be up after dark.

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January 2018

A full-sized basketball court and six solar street lights have been constructed and installed next to Buoj Elementary School. Following Marshallese tradition, an opening ceremony will soon be held, before the court is used. The management plan for the conservation site is almost finished and will be signed right after the ceremony. The mayor and the people of Ailinglaplap send “their deepest appreciation and big komol tata [thank you] for the project and the work that Seacology has contributed to Buoj community and the rest of the world.”

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May 2017

The solar lighting units for the court arrived recently. The two basketball backboards have arrived in Majuro (the main island) and will be shipped to the atoll soon.

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January 2017

Building supplies, including cement, blocks, rebar, and wire mesh for the basketball court are already on Ailingalaplap. Solar lighting and basketball backboards have been ordered but have not arrived yet. One community consultation has been completed regarding the marine protected area, which remains under protection.

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