OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Changing Land Use and the Impact of U.S. Agricultural Aid in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 1945 to the Present: A Research Agenda


Debra Claypool


Until the early twentieth century, the Pacific Island nation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) was nutritionally self-sufficient. Using traditional agricultural and fishing methods, the Marshallese maintained a balanced, sustainable diet, and overall excellent health. However, after World War II, the U.S. occupied the Marshall Islands, establishing a military base there and later using it for nuclear testing, and by the end of the twentieth century, conditions in the RMI had changed radically. Among other changes, the RMI as a whole had become dependent on imported foods from the U.S., which first arrived as trade goods, but continued as agricultural aid. As this dependence increased, demand for traditional foods decreased, and the agricultural land on the atolls ceased to be used for food production. Changing climate has reinforced this transition, but it is my claim that it began before the climate change, partly as a direct result of food aid policies from the U.S. My research has shown a significant gap in scholarship examining the relationship between U.S. food aid and the changes in agricultural practice in the RMI. This research asks the following question: Is there a correlation between the levels of U.S. food aid from 1945 to the present, and the abandonment of agricultural use of the land in the Republic of the Marshall Islands? I examine the means by which such a correlation could be established, and I discuss the relevance of such a study in development of future aid programs in the developing world.

This document is currently not available here.