Although Samoa’s development has advanced greatly in the last two decades, the country continues to suffer from high unemployment and rising inequality.
Samoa: the facts
Samoans have a relatively high life expectancy of 73 years and low infant mortality rate of 20 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-six percent of children are immunised against tuberculosis, although only 57 percent are immunised against measles.
Ninety-six percent of the population has access to clean water and 100 percent to adequate sanitation facilities. Ninety-nine percent of the population is literate and 94 percent of children finish primary school, while two-thirds advance to secondary school.
Samoa remains vulnerable to external economic shocks, and as a result of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 5 percent in 2008/2009. The economy is heavily dependent upon tourism (which employs nearly one-third of the population), agriculture, fishing, and remittances and aid from overseas. Although unemployment is high, widespread subsistence agriculture means that most of the population has enough to eat.
Samoa’s development, however, has been largely unequal. Urban populations continue to enjoy far better access to quality education, healthcare and electricity.
A tsunami in 2009 caused significant damage, particularly along the country's southern, eastern and south-western coast. Cyclones in 1990, 1991 and 2004 also destroyed transport and communication infrastructure and many homes.
In December 2012, Samoa was hit by Cyclone Evan, one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the country in 20 years. It resulted in four deaths and left over 4,500 people homeless. In response, Caritas Australia opened a Pacific Emergency Appeal to help food, water, sanitation and shelter for the many communities affected by this disaster. To read more or donate to the appeal, visit the Pacific Emergency Appeal page.
Caritas Australia in Samoa
Through our local partner Caritas Australia implemented 2 projects in Samoa in 2010/2011. A total of AU $233,843 was spent on a Disaster Risk Reduction project and an Emergency response.
Snapshot of our recent work
- The Samoan Earthquake Rehabilitation program provided 1,476 people with emergency food and water supplies, rebuilt 70 houses for 420 people, gave 395 students school uniforms allowing them to return to class and provided 460 people with psychosocial support.
- Emergency supplies have been pre-positioned at six sites around Samoa and communities trained in distribution and use of supplies, enabling Caritas to respond to a new emergency quickly and efficiently should the need arise.
- Young people and communities have been trained to prepare for and respond future emergencies to minimise impact during future disasters.