Homelessness in Samoa
A leading cause of homelessness in Samoa is its vulnerability to natural disasters and deadly cyclones. These natural disasters wipe out many families’ homes, businesses and churches, consequently leaving them homeless. The rural communities face the bulk of the homelessness problem due to a lack of access to clean water, land to grow crops and job opportunities. Around 18.8% of Samoa’s population lives below the national poverty line and most of that group lives in rural communities where there is a lack of jobs. Instead, the villagers rely heavily on their land for survival.

5 Facts About Homelessness in Samoa

  1. Homelessness in Samoa is partially due to the fact that many people do not have access to agriculture. This is because natural disasters can cause devastating land destruction. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $20 million grant to the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project to help aid those in Samoa who suffer in the aftermath of natural disasters. The goal of this initiative is to rehabilitate communities and improve the construction of infrastructure in order to become more stable during natural disasters. Further, this collaboration will also seek to increase food productivity, nutrition and more consistent incomes for the Samoan people.
  2. Samoa is in close contact with countries that have a high income in labor markets, through permanent and temporary migration. Migration offers higher paying job opportunities which raise the amount of income in Samoan households. This, in turn, reduces the chances of homelessness in Samoa.
  3. Violence is prevalent in Samoan families and results in Samoa having one of the highest rates of family and sexual assaults in the world. In 2018, it became the first country in the Pacific Region to perform a National Public Inquiry into family violence — which unveiled that there is an “epidemic” of violence and sexual abuse. According to the report, 90% of respondents indicated some form of violence frequently transpiring at home. Nearly 60% of women experienced sexual abuse from a partner, 20% of women reported being raped and nearly 10% of women experienced incest. The high rate of family and sexual abuse is a determining factor for young girls in Samoa in running away from home — which in turn leads to homelessness.
  4. Many of the people in Samoa rely on agriculture as their main source of income. However, the catastrophe of natural disasters frequently destroys lands, which in turn takes away these Samoans’ means of survival. As of 2019, the unemployment rate in Samoa was 8.36%. The unemployment rate will only rise higher due to natural disasters’ effect on the land and the reduction in manufacturing work. These factors all contribute to the problem of homelessness in Samoa.
  5. One cause of homelessness is mental illness. According to the results from 2017 mental health data, 16.4% of homeless people in Samoa suffer from mental illness. Projects for Assistance in Transition for Homelessness (PATH) is an outreach program accessible in Samoa that offers help in many ways. Examples are diagnostic treatment, rehabilitation and referrals to primary health care providers for those experiencing mental illness.

An NGO Making a Difference

Although Samoa faces adversities such as poverty which leads to homelessness — no reliable statistics show exactly how many people are homeless in Samoa. Luckily, many people tend to have continuous access to the sea for fish and land to grow crops, which is how they can make an income. With the intent of creating a more secure economy and land for the people of Samoa, the nongovernmental organization Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) is currently working to reduce homelessness. The program emerged because of the recognition that through effective and sustainable Civil Society programs, the quality of life for the people of Samoa can improve. The program’s goal is to provide support within Civil Society groups that will improve their communities and provide more promising economic opportunities.

Montana Moore
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in SamoaWith a population smaller than 200,000, Samoa is a small island in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Samoans gained their independence from New Zealand and Germany in 1962, and now inhabit the westernmost islands within the archipelago. Although the United Nations has not identified Samoa as a “Least Developed Nation” since 2014, food insecurity and hunger remain in Samoa as lingering consequences of poverty, natural disasters and foreign dependency.

Lack of Resources

Samoa lacks arable land and agricultural resources; almost three decades of devastating natural disasters, including the 1990 Ofa and 1991 Val cyclones, have flooded and destroyed much of the once arable land in Samoa. Samoan hunger rates rise following such incidents. However, in 2015, despite a cyclone hitting that same year, Samoa was declared one of the 40 countries that have cut hunger rates in half within thirty years. As of 2016, 81.9% of Samoans lived in rural areas, yet only 2.8% of the country’s 1,097 square miles of land was arable. For Samoans, barren land has made agricultural innovation one of the only, yet most complex, options. In 1994, 22.1% of the Samoan GDP was derived from agricultural sales and other food production. By 2019, agricultural contribution to GDP fell to 9.8% due to a lack of farming land, knowledge and financial incentive.

Lack of Quality Food

Imported foods provide increased caloric quantity, not quality; from 1961 to 2007, the surge of imported foods made 900 extra calories available per person per day, largely curbing hunger in Samoa. Overall calorie availability nearly doubled during that time, yet dietary fat availability rose at a disproportionately fast rate of 73%. Imported foods, like meats and vegetable oils, rose from 10 calories to 117 per Samoan per day. Yet, the caloric intake of traditionally consumed and locally produced food like coconuts, starchy vegetables and fruits rose negligibly. Overconsumption of calories and high-fat foods are linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, all of which are on the rise in Samoa.

Obesity, diabetes and malnutrition coexist. In 2013, 45.8% of Samoans had diabetes, compared to 22.3% in 2002. In 2017, an estimated 89.1% of Samoan adults were overweight and 63.1% obese. Yet, an estimated 4% of children aged five or less experienced acute malnutrition or wasting, and 5% experienced stunting in that same year. Such rates are related to tariff liberalization, which continues to increase accessibility to non-perishable, mass-produced foods. Samoan’s overconsumption of processed macronutrients and sodium has led to obesity, masking the underlying micronutrient deficiencies and severe undernourishment.

Lack of Financial Equality

Education, income and access to healthy foods are interconnected. The percentage of Samoans living below the food poverty line had dropped from 10.6% of the population in 2008 to 4.3% in 2014; incidences of extreme hunger and poverty have steadily declined due to heightened caloric availability. However, Samoan financial inequality continues to climb as a result of the globalization that also has nearly eliminated extreme hunger. Samoa imports goods at a much higher rate than they export goods, leading to a lack of cash in the economy as well as a lack of job opportunities for those not directly connected to the global trade market.

Those living at or below the food poverty line typically lack formal degrees and belong to the 8.7% of Samoans who are unemployed. Cultural and historical circumstances have made imported food, regardless of their quality, more desirable than traditionally consumed foods. Wealthy and impoverished Samoans alike have developed an appetite for imported foods. The most vulnerable in the population, however, do not have a choice in what they consume.

Initiatives Tackling Food Security in Samoa

An alarming uptake in cases of overnutrition and resulting chronic diseases have occurred in Samoa. As a result, strides have been taken in addressing the root causes of food insecurity and the remaining hunger issues. An example of this is the recently launched 2019 Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project. This project aims to improve food production infrastructure and implement sustainable agricultural practices over the next several years. By improving data collection of food insecurity, chronic disease and poverty rates, this project will localize Samoan food production industries. The project’s emphasis is on creating a more interconnected food landscape; this will not only continue to eliminate hunger in Samoa but will also increase cash flow and decrease chronic disease rates in the country over time.

Until then, groups like Caritas will continue to serve as a lifeline. Caritas runs two programs that prepare Samoans for natural disasters by training locals and installing emergency supplies throughout the island for distribution. The group was able to help more than 1,476 Samoans in 2012 suffering from hunger after Cyclone Evan.

Caledonia Strelow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Sanitation in American SamoaAmerican Samoa refers to the seven South Pacific islands and atolls that have belonged to the U.S. since 1900. The U.S. Navy governed the islands until 1951 after the deed of cession in which the local chiefs of the Tutuila ceded the island. Today, American Samoa has an elected, nonvoting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Like many island nations in the pacific, sanitation is one of the major challenges that American Samoa faces every year. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in American Samoa.

10 Facts about Sanitation in American Samoa

  1. Groundwater resources in American Samoa are limited. The islands that create American Samoa face the same challenges as any island nation. Underground water sources of many island nations are located near the salty seawater. In practice, this means that there’s only a limited amount of water people can draw from and limited space for people to drill wells underground. The fresh water that is accessible on the island is the source of nearly all public drinking water.
  2. Tap water is not drinkable in American Samoa. American Samoa has general access to improved drinking-water that is protected from outside contamination through pipes and sanitation processes. However, the water quality of local streams and rivers is still poor. Visitors are warned to drink bottled water when on the islands.
  3. Rapid urbanization contributed to water pollution. Previously, many villages in American Samoa relied on their local streams and rivers as a source of freshwater. Rapid urbanization, which happened from 1960 to 2004 in American Samoa contributed to the degradation of sanitation in American Samoa. The rapid urbanization and the lack of proper waste disposal polluted the natural water sources near cities. Unchecked development of the islands, such as deforestation to build plantations and housing, also alters the natural flow of local rivers and streams.
  4. Local pig farms contribute to water pollution. Pigs are an important part of culture and food in American Samoa. According to the EPA, there are 2,700 pig farms on Tutuila Island and many more on the six other islands of American Samoa. The majority of the pig farmers operate small-scale pig farms, consisting of anywhere from one to 20 pigs in their backyards. Many pig farmers simply use pressurized water to clean out their pig pens, which leads to polluted water seeping into local rivers and water sources.
  5. In July of 2003, American Samoa received full approval for the pollution control program. This approved program helped the American Samoa government to conduct facility inspections and improve environmental regulations. The American Samoa government worked with landowners to build walls and other structures to contain and direct runoff from pig waste. The program also moved more than 100 pigs away from streams and rivers. This resulted in a 91 percent decrease in average E. coli concentration in the streams.
  6. The Keep American Samoa Beautiful (KASB) program is reducing pollution. KASB encourages the general public to help improve sanitation in American Samoa. There are multiple programs that encourage the people of American Samoa to reduce littering. This kind of program is important for American Samoa since litter, garbage and pollution attract mosquitoes. Diseases such as dengue fever and elephantiasis are some of the diseases that constantly plague the people of American Samoa.
  7. In 2016, the United States EPA awarded $8.9 million to American Samoa. The government of American Samoa will use this awarded money to ensure access to safe drinking water and to improve the general sanitation of American Samoa. Some of the projects include connecting new wells to drinking water systems, a new water storage tank at Upper Pago Pago and a sewer line extension to Aua village.
  8. ASEPA faces a few challenges in future plans for the quality and supply of fresh water. Lack of data prior to 2000 poses a challenge for improving the quality of water and sanitation in American Samoa. First, the lack of data makes it difficult to identify historical trends. Second, it makes anticipating possible water quality problems in the future difficult. This is more important than ever because of climate change.
  9. Cyclones and hurricanes are a major threat to sanitation in American Samoa. American Samoa often faces tropical cyclones and hurricanes. In 2018, cyclone Gita left a trail of devastation in American Samoa. Cyclones can be a major source of pollution in local water supplies for a variety of reasons. The rain from hurricanes and cyclones often contains undrinkable salt water. Flooding caused by events can pick up chemicals and other hazards that can contaminate the local water sources.
  10. The tuna industry is contributing to water pollution. American Samoa is asking tuna cannery industries in American Samoa to contribute to conserving waterTuna canneries are one of the biggest industries in American Samoa. As a result, there were elevated phosphorous levels in local watersheds. The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program recommends the tuna canning industries monitor and improve water usage.

These 10 facts about sanitation in American Samoa reveal many challenges. However, it is clear that there are efforts to further improve the conditions in American Samoa. The U.S. government awarding funds for projects that improve water quality. Furthermore, the American Samoa government is also collecting environmental data to prepare themselves for potential challenges in the future. With these improvements, a cleaner American Samoa awaits for all of its inhabitants.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Samoan fishing industry

Samoa is a small island that relies heavily on two main exports, coconut products and fish. Although the Samoan economy grew significantly from diverse agriculture products such as taro, its current focus shifted to fishing industry development. Since the majority of poor Samoans work within the fishing and agriculture industries, improving the fishing industry can help the livelihoods of poor Samoans. The Samoan government and the World Bank are seeing progress in the growing Samoan fishing industry. The poverty rate decreased from 26.9 percent in 2008 to 18.8 percent in 2013, in part due to investment in underappreciated industries, such as the fishing industry.

Current Aquaculture Status

The Strategy for Development of Samoa (SDS) views aquaculture as an important pre-requisite to effective fish farming. Since 2007, Tilapia culture in earthen ponds has been successful but there are several constraints to further development in the Samoan fishing industry. A lack of feeds, technology, skills and limited access to markets impedes faster development. Despite the low technology, aquaculture is viewed as a practical means of increasing fisheries production, providing an additional source of food to those in poverty and generating income to local communities.

Four Initiatives

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, created four main goals in 2017 to boost the fisheries sector. The four initiatives are Samoa’s Tuna Management and Development Plan 2017-2021, the revival of the Fish Aggregating Devices (F.A.Ds) Project, repair work on research vessel F.V. Ulimasao and delivery of 20 tablets to monitor deployed F.A.Ds. The 20 tablets are used to observe and assess the impact of the F.A.Ds on food security and the livelihoods of Samoans.

The F.V. Ulimasou research vessel was repaired through financial assistance from the World Bank. The vessel is used to train fishery personnel and test new technology and fishing gear. About 30 percent of exports derive from the fishing sector and over 90 percent of exported fish is tuna. For this reason, the minister targets the growing industry in order to further develop the economy and the Samoan fishing industry.

Assistance from the World Bank

Thousands of Samoan families and local producers plan to benefit from a $20 million grant from the World Bank. The Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project was created in 2019 and will include construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, such as cold storage at fish markets. Samoa is frequently affected by hurricanes and part of the grant is directed towards constructing disaster-resilient fishery buildings.

The grant will also help grow Samoa’s capacity to export fish and fish products. Hon. Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, Samoa’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries said, “We look forward to working with the World Bank to achieve our goal of increased food, improved nutrition and more secure incomes for Samoans.” At least 30 percent of matching grants will go towards female farmers and fishers.

Future Outlooks

The poverty rate has continually declined thanks to efforts by the Samoan government, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and various organizations. The Asian Development Bank supported Samoa since 1966 and committed $190 million in loans, $134 million in grants and $33 million in technical assistance in the small island country. ADB’s future assistance to Samoa will focus on energy investment, disaster-resilient roads, upgraded port facilities and job creation. With continued efforts from external organizations, the livelihood of Samoans will improve.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Projects Reducing Poverty in Samoa

A little more than 18 percent of the Samoan population lives below the national poverty line. However, poverty in this nation is relative, with many suffering from the poverty of opportunity. Those living in rural areas are less likely to have access to education, clean water and health care. This lack of resources heavily contributes to poverty in Samoa. However, the country has made significant strides in the past decade. The poverty rate continues to fall from a high of 26.9 percent in 2008 with the help of projects that reduce poverty in Samoa.

3 Projects That Reduce Poverty In Samoa

  1. Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship
    The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) helped launch a five-year effort to support the growth of women entrepreneurs. This strategy is set to aid poverty reduction, social well-being and sustainable economic growth. Currently, an estimated 24 percent of women in Samoa are involved in entrepreneurial activities.Yet, female entrepreneurs still face many obstacles to starting and operating their businesses. Access to finance is limited, and many women lack knowledge of the registration and tax procedures necessary to start or formalize their business. Identifying and overcoming these barriers will be vital to catalyzing women’s entrepreneurship in the country.
  2. Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES)
    Beyond the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Islands, these countries are battling their fair share of economic and environmental issues, many of which are directly related to their status as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). SIDS are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and landslides. With most of the population and assets concentrated along the coastline, any one of those events can threaten both human lives and fragile economies.Climate change is exacerbating the situation, bringing more frequent and intense weather events, higher temperatures and rising sea levels. Pacific Island Forum Leaders have repeatedly identified climate change as the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.Samoa is one of 15 pacific island countries that are a part of this project under the Intra-African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) Program. The group aims to strengthen adaptation and mitigation measures at the national and regional level and support partner countries in climate negotiations.Additionally, the project efforts will improve information sharing and develop national capacity to address climate change and build disaster resilience through enhanced training, studies and research opportunities. Finally, PACRES will strengthen networks, share knowledge and engage the private sector to address climate change and build disaster resilience.
  3. Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project
    Across the Pacific, people’s diets have changed dramatically over recent years. Fast food, flour and fizzy drinks are common on restaurant tables and supermarket shelves. Corned beef, imported cereals and fatty meat imports have become staple parts of the local diet.Aside from significant public health concerns, high dependence on food imports can come at a heavy expense, particularly given the distance of pacific island countries from larger markets. High dependence on global commodity markets to meet basic needs also leaves people vulnerable when global prices spike.But in Samoa, there are signs that things may slowly be changing. More restaurants in Apia—one of Samoa’s major cities—seem to be taking pride in selling traditional Samoan cuisine made from local produce. A recent recipe book, produced at the request of the Prime Minister, features an array of healthy Samoan dishes, while health promotion efforts look to inspire a growing interest in the origins of the food on people’s plates.Sponsored by the World Bank Group, the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project is working with farmers not only to increase their income but also to ensure that local produce captures a growing share of the domestic food market.It seems that the market is ripe for high-quality local food that is distinctly Samoan. With the right support, and with partners such as the Small Business Enterprise Centre and the Development Bank of Samoa, the project aims to ensure farmers can take advantage of open opportunities to connect with buyers, improve the value of their goods; and increase the market for fresh, healthy and ultimately local produce.

Together these projects that reduce poverty in Samoa are good for the economy and ultimately good for Samoa and could set an important precedent for greater self-sufficiency in Pacific island countries.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Pixabay

Everything You Need to Know About Girls' Education in Samoa and Principe

Girls’ education is an important facet of an impoverished country. An educated female population lowers birth rates, improves children’s well being, grows the size of the country’s workforce and increases household incomes. This impact holds true in the small island countries of Samoa and Principe. While both countries are making improvements, there are still obstacles that face girls’ education in Samoa and Principe.

Statistics of Girls’ Education

According to UNICEF data, a majority of females between the ages of 15 and 24 in Samoa and Principe read. In Samoa, the literacy rate for young females is 99 percent. Comparatively, the rate of literate females in Principe is 77 percent.

While the majority of females attend primary school in Samoa, the case is not the same for secondary school. Eighty-nine percent of Samoan females enrolled attend primary school, which is roughly 1 percent higher than male attendance. In secondary school, only 69 percent of girls enrolled attend class. In addition, the gap between male and female participation grows; girls’ attendance in secondary school is 19 percent higher than boys.

In Principe, a drop off in secondary attendance for girls is also seen. However, it is much more dramatic. Roughly 85 percent of females enrolled in primary school attend a school which is at parity with the male population. In secondary school, female attendance drops to 30 percent while male enrollment drops to 29 percent.

Child Marriage

There are many reasons that girls do not seek education beyond primary school. One of these is child marriage, which affects both Samoa and Principe. In Samoa, seven percent of adolescent females are married, and in Principe, almost 20 percent of adolescent females are married. Child marriage ends a girl’s education since she is expected to take care of the household. Once a girl gives birth, the responsibility of a child makes it even more difficult for her to return to school.

Poverty

The largest obstacle to girls’ education in Samoa and Principe is poverty. In Samoa, the per capita income has risen to 5,038 talas or roughly $2,000, meaning the country has moved out of the least developed country category. However, the country’s infrastructure and the economy are vulnerable to natural disasters. In 2009, Samoa was hit by a tsunami that affected its economy and destroyed four primary schools and one secondary school, leaving over 1,000 children without a classroom.

Poverty poses a larger problem for girls’ education in Principe. Roughly 29 percent of the country’s population is reported to live in extreme poverty. In Principe, there is a severe lack of opportunity for its people, which discourages education. In 2015, the country’s human development index was .574, which placed it 142 out of 188 countries. In addition, the unemployment rate was roughly 13 percent.

Geography

Geography also affects girls’ education in Principe. Girls who live in urban areas are more likely to go to secondary school than girls who live in rural areas. Roughly 19 percent of girls who live in urban areas attend secondary school. Comparatively about 7 percent of girls who live in rural areas attend secondary school.

Improving Girls’ Education

Despite roadblocks facing girls’ education in Samoa and Principe, there are several organizations working in both countries to help improve conditions, including the World Bank. In Principe, the World Bank Group approved the Quality Education for All project. The goal of this million dollar project is to improve the quality of education that students receive. Since the project was approved in 2014, the number of qualified primary teachers has risen from 0 to 372. In addition, 50 percent of female students in primary school have benefited from the program.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is another group aimed at improving girls education in Samoa. After the tsunami in 2009, UNICEF and the Samoan Ministry of Education worked to move displaced children to host schools. UNICEF provided tents to the host schools to use as classrooms since the schools were receiving an influx of new children. Teachers also received psycho-social training from UNICEF to help students recover from any trauma that was a result of the tsunami.

The Government of Samoa has also taken action to improve girls’ education. In 2015, the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi opened National Literacy Week, which encourages parents to read to their children and for children to take their education seriously. The week also includes reading and writing competitions and a book fair. Students from all over Samoa represent their schools in four zones and compete against each other in order to promote reading inside and outside the classroom.

Girls’ education in Samoa and Principe faces many challenges, including child marriage and poverty. However, a majority of females in both countries are literate and attend primary school. There are also several organizations in both countries working to improve the quality of education girls receive and that natural disasters do not get in the way of girls attending school. Organizations like UNICEF and the World bank give girls in Samoa and Principe hope for a brighter future.

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

Samoa aid
A common misconception suggests that the United States has nothing to gain from providing aid to other countries. Some people might support the international affairs budget out of a desire to help save humanity, but there is more to providing foreign aid than that. For example, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa when it helps increase exports and prevents damage to the island caused by natural disasters. The funding that goes towards programs overseas is not a one-time donation. Samoa will be given the tools necessary to build a self-reliable community and in turn, Samoa’s improved contribution to the global market promotes economic growth in the United States, too.

Samoa has repeatedly been victim to natural disasters that have stunted its economic growth. Tsunamis can destroy crops and natural resources, negatively impacting Samoa’s involvement with foreign trade. Since it is part of the Asia Pacific region, which has experienced significant economic growth, the destruction of Samoa’s natural resources interferes with export shipments going to the United States.

An estimated $180 billion in damages and lost resources occurs every year due to natural disasters. Within the past 20 years, $93.2 billion was spent on relief while only $13.5 billion was put towards disaster prevention. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa by minimizing damage to the environment and saving potential exports.

To combat tsunamis and the rising sea levels, USAID encourages communication among countries in the Asia Pacific region with the use of the Pacific Disaster Center’s warning system. It compiles information from weather radars to notify Samoa when storms are headed in its direction. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community helps protect agriculture, while USAID lets stakeholders know when there is a particularly strong harvest.

In recent years, the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) announced plans to help preserve natural resources and vulnerable species. This includes replanting trees that bear fruit and restoring marine ecosystems. So far, USAID has dedicated $96 million to the entire Asia Pacific region.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Samoa because it depends on Samoa’s agricultural and fishing industries. These are also two of the largest sources of income within Samoa. When help focuses on protecting crops and fisheries, Samoa increases its ability to participate in the global market.

Foodstuffs make up 40 percent of what the U.S. imports from Samoa, and nearly a quarter comes from its fish. In total, $6.76 million worth of product is sent to the United States. In addition to helping Samoa’s environmental plans, the SDS seeks to grow the country’s economic involvement through boosting productivity in the business sector. This will have a positive impact on trading with the United States.

Many other goals outlined in the SDS are designed to help Samoa and the countries that do business with it. Farmers are receiving materials to improve their harvests and hopefully reach a 20 percent increase in crops grown within Samoa.

Higher employment rates in the businesses that produce exports are predicted to help the agricultural and fishing industries. Also, financial services are looking to improve the performance of small business owners. Samoa can maximize the number of resources saved from natural disasters when all companies follow the correct protocol in the event of an emergency.

Foreign aid is an investment. The United States’ efforts to promote a thriving economy in Samoa will be returned in the form of better trade opportunities. Natural disasters and low production rates affect more than just Samoa. Thus, it is in the interest of other countries, such as the United States, to provide foreign aid to Samoa.

Sabrina Dubbert

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access In Samoa
In the past few years, Samoa has seen the emergence of a new banking system with a focus on credit access. This comes after years of financial hardship and a shrinking economy. According to a 2016 report, no new loans had been issued in Samoa in roughly five years. Major financial cornerstones like the Bank of Hawaii had backed out of the country.  In desperation, and on the margins of the mainstream economy, Samoa adopted a public banking system.

The Landscape of Samoa’s Credit Sector

The financial services sector in Samoa encompasses a wide range but is mostly limited to urban areas. The industry has four major commercial banks: two foreign banks and two regional banks. However, the domestic credit market is controlled by Public Financial Institutions. Samoa National Provident Fund holds 22.6 percent of the market; another key player, The Development Bank of Samoa, holds a 10.3 percent share. Much of the success of credit access in Samoa can be attributed to the Central Bank of Samoa. It acts as a regulator and has enforced progressive strategies that have expanded financial services and inclusion.

However, 49 percent of Samoans are outside of the formal financial market. Public constraint has often been attributed to a cash-heavy informal economic sector and inadequate access to distribution points throughout Samoa. The World Bank and The International Finance Corporation have identified Samoa as a struggling credit environment, but policy improvements seek to target these issues.

Somoa’s First Credit Bureau

In 2015, Samoa launched its first Credit Bureau financed by The International Finance Corporation. Its intention was to bring efficiency and transparency to the money-lending market. This was a milestone for Samoa’s financial system, which was historically reliant on cash. It helped many different parties by providing confidence to lenders as borrowers built up their credit profiles. The Credit Bureau was fundamental in establishing a credit infrastructure in Samoa. Backed by the Data Bureau and the largest financial firms in Samoa, technological advancements such as cloud storage and information sharing among banks allowed credit footings to grow. The new technologies meant that lenders could deliver financial services at significantly lower costs to expand credit access to broader segments of the economy.

Expanded Credit Access

Domestic credit to businesses has grown by roughly 60 percent since the mid-1980s. The Strategy For The Development of Samoa, intended for the years 2016 to 2019, outlined plans to increase inclusivity to vulnerable groups and help end all poverty in the region.

Supported by the public domestic credit market, economic resilience accompanies private sector investment and development initiatives to expand credit access. Agriculture and fisheries are especially important to Samoa’s rural economic growth and development. The Development Bank of Samoa finances agriculture through the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Program and Agribusiness Development Program. The Agribusiness Programs, Development Bank and Business Enterprise Center provide increased technical and financial support services for small business development.

Positive Results

Samoa has already left the list of the most undeveloped countries and is on its way to sustainable economic growth. With the continued implementation of credit and financial services aimed at the most vulnerable populations, Samoa has seen growth in per capita GDP of roughly $6,000 USD in 2017, up nearly $500 USD since 2015. 

While extreme poverty does not afflict the region, 20 percent of the Somoa’s population lives under the poverty line and struggles to obtain secure employment. The majority of this population lives in rural areas, lacking access to the resources available in urban areas. With the addition of these financial services aimed at reaching underserved communities and the larger rural economy, many industries are growing and the country is opening new doors for its people. As credit access in Samoa continues to spread, the economy and individual prosperity will also blossom.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Samoa

Located in the region of the world known as Oceania, the islands of Samoa make up a nation that has been able to successfully sustain its economy since gaining its independence from New Zealand in 1961. A nation known for its sacred family values, the island of roughly 195,000 citizens is largely dependent on its agricultural and fishing industries.

In recent years, the island nation has been highlighted in the media for its obesity epidemic, due to the nation’s low Per Capita Income of $5,965. This has caused many families to turn to cheap food products, which are usually high in calories, in order to survive. In spite of the nation’s ongoing struggle with its obesity issue, what may often be overlooked is how the media misrepresents Samoa.

History of Samoa: A Future with Promise

Samoa is a nation composed of citizens that have withstood colonization as well as threats from natural disasters, such as the 2009 earthquake in the Pacific that induced a tsunami. The nation’s current GDP is roughly $830 million, which is not a substantial amount of money for the economy.

However, in recent years, the nation has made several milestones that allude to economic progressions, such as joining the World Trade Organization. The nation has also advocated more for women’s rights by developing a quota system to ensure that more women receive the opportunity to participate in governmental affairs.

How the Media Misrepresents Samoa

Although Samoa has its domestic challenges to overcome, the island has long been producing some of the most talented athletes the world has ever seen. The media misrepresents Samoa by shedding light on the nation’s obesity epidemic, rather than on the athletic talent that has given a good reputation to the nation.

Samoa is referred to as “Football Island” because of the significant number of American NFL football players that come from there. Samoan men have been recognized for their athletic capabilities over the years and have been recruited to football and rugby teams in New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

Two such athletes are Jordan Cameron, who played for the Miami Dolphins, and Malcom Floyd, who played for the San Diego Chargers. Both men were nominated for the 2015 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award.

Women have also made their mark in the sports industry. Women athletes have made history for Samoa by winning coveted sports awards. One such award, achieved by Sergeant Latoya N. Marshall, was the Female Athlete of the Year award by the All-Army Sports Office.

Another internationally-recognized female athlete is weightlifter Ele Opeloge, who brought attention to Samoa over the years for her weightlifting performances in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Opeloge was awarded a silver medal for her performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and continues to receive recognition from the media for her achievements.

Tourism: A Promising Industry

Another industry that remains promising for Samoa is the tourism industry. The nation hosts a natural, tropical scenery that attracts people from all over the world, and according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Samoan tourism makes up roughly $207.5 million of the nation’s GDP and 132,000 tourists visited the island nation in the year 2013 alone.

Oceanian culture has also gained a wider international influence, an influence that has the potential to attract more tourists to the region over time. One recent example is with the release of the widely successful Disney film “Moana,” an animation about a figurative princess from the island of Tahiti that has grossed over $600 million.

As Samoa continues to rise above its struggles with domestic obesity, a weak economy and threats from nature, the nation shows great promise. Several industries have brought the nation positive recognition in the international media, overshadowing the multiple ways that the media misrepresents Samoa.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

Peace Initiative in SamoaFamily Federation founder Sun Myung Moon envisioned a “Peace Road,” an international highway that physically connects people across the world. Roads unite people in trade, culture and travel. Moon believed that uniting people in daily life would extinguish historical fears and misunderstandings that divide the world. Moon suggested the construction of a highway between Korea and Japan, two former enemy countries, in 1981. Beginning in 2005, he advocated for a “Peace Tunnel” across the Bering Strait.

Samoa did its part to carry out Moon’s vision by implementing the Peace Road initiative across the country in August 2015. Moon’s vision focused on the physical connection between cultures; this peace initiative in Samoa can bridge cultural gaps and promote peace throughout the region. Samoa’s 2015 and 2016 Peace Road initiatives focused on Savai’i churches and schools in Salelologa, Sapapali’i, Sili and Puleia.

The Peace Road’s 2015 implementation revolved around several themes:

  • Uniting mind and body
  • Connecting the youth with the elderly
  • Bridging the gap between traditions and new customs
  • Reviving old customs to educate the youth

Samoa’s 2017 Peace Road initiative centered on Taufusi Market. Universal Peace Federation Samoa adopted Taufusi Market’s road as their designated “Peace Road” in November 2017. Taufusi Market’s stalls were adorned with colorful banners, drapes and flags.

The Peace Road programs of 2017 included:

  • The launch of Youth and Students for Peace at the High Tech Youth Network locations in Vaivase and Avele
  • The re-launching of the Women’s Federation for World Peace with a sewing project

Although officially completed in November 2017, Samoa’s Peace Road initiative extended to the January 16 inauguration of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace. The addition of the Peace Road to infrastructure in Samoa actualizes the global peace initiative proposed by Moon.

Although it is a new peace initiative in Samoa, the Peace Road in Taufusi Market promotes cultural education and empathy. It continues the global peace initiative undertaken over 35 years ago. Samoa has joined 120 other countries in supporting the annual Peace Road; nearly 62 percent of the world actively supports and promotes world peace.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr