Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Samoa is not a particularly well-known country. Split between two islands called Savai’i and Upolu, it spans a grand total of 1,097 square miles. Made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent his last years in a house on the latter island, its people have been the subjects of many genetic, linguistic and anthropological studies. Apart from studies though, the developed world seems to have left Samoa behind. Below are five factors contributing to hunger in Samoa.
1. Food Dependence
The people of Samoa depend upon foods that they receive from other countries. Additionally, access to these foods is unequal, so the Samoans who do have access to the imported foods tend to eat all of it. For lack of complete meals, a large percentage of the population becomes obese.
2. Nutritional Imbalance
In Samoa, the top five food group shares in its total food supply, as of 2011, are as follows:
Cereals – 18.5 percent
Roots – 10.2 percent
Meat – 16.3 percent
Vegetable oils and animal fats – 9 percent
Sugars and honey – 8.6 percent
What’s missing? Vegetables and fruits. The people of Samoa become obese in large part because healthy foods are not made available to them in large enough amounts to provide an adequate diet to the overwhelming majority.
3. Inadequate Reporting
In April 2013, Samoa Observer released an article titled, “Samoa praised for ‘cutting hunger’ in half”. However, upon closer research, an astute Samoan writer named Mata’afa Keni Lesa discovered that the story was inaccurate. The article claimed to have met the first of the Millennium Development Goals, but Lesa pointed out that the other two had gone unmet. These goals are:
Target 1.a: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is below the basic needs poverty line
Target 1.B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
The 2012 Pacific Regional MDGs Tracking Report states, “…the increase in the level and depth of hardship was significant for the rural areas, especially Savai’I, which accounts for a quarter of the poor in Samoa.” With such a high percentage of Samoans below the poverty line, how can they possibly have enough income or resources to get their dietary needs met?
As of 2014, 80.73 percent of the Samoan population lives in rural regions, meaning that about 81 percent of Samoans do not have easy access to trade routes, This percentage has only increased from 1999, when it was 78.16 percent.
5. Geographical Breakdown
Only a small percentage of their land, less than 5 percent, is arable. On top of this, their access to machines like agricultural tractors is improbable, averaging 2.14 tractors per 1000 hectares of arable land. In 2012, unsafe fertilizers were banned from farming techniques.
– Leah Zazofsky
Photo: Google Images