Samoa has developed strongly over the last two decades. Despite this, the country still experiences high unemployment and rising income inequality. The country is also vulnerable to natural disasters, which regularly batter the island nation. We are helping Samoan communities ready themselves for extreme weather events, and are helping communities rebuild after disaster has struck.
Why do we work in Samoa?
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.
The country is also prone to natural disasters. A tsunami in 2009 caused significant damage, particularly along the country's southern, eastern and south-western coast. Cyclones in 1990, 1991 and 2004 destroyed transport and communication infrastructure and many homes. And in December 2012, Samoa was hit by Cyclone Evan, one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the country in 20 years, resulting in four deaths and more than 4,500 people homeless.
Our work in Samoa
We are working wihth a local partner Caritas Australia to support three programs in Samoa. Our long-term programs concentrate on helping Samoan communities prepare for natural disasters.
We have also responded to emergencies in Samoa. In response to cyclone Evan in December 2012, Caritas Australia opened a Pacific Emergency Appeal to help provide food, water, sanitation and shelter for the many communities affected. To read more or donate to the appeal, visit the Pacific Emergency Appeal page.
Examples 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.