Following destructive cyclones in 1990 and 1991, much of Samoa’s agriculture was destroyed. This has caused major setbacks for food production. To alleviate the huge deficit in food resources, the country sought out help from donor nations as well as the World Food Programme. Despite the help from donor nations and relief programs, problems still remain with hunger in Samoa today.

In an address in 1996 by the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, it was stated that the 1993 food production recovery program was making headway until a fungal disease wrecked havoc on the crops. With natural disasters and failed production recovery programs not making any progress, Malielegaoi and the government of Samoa committed to the World Food Summit Plan of Action in hopes of combatting hunger in Samoa and rebuilding the food recovery program.

Years later, hunger in Samoa is still a crisis. In 2006, the depth of hunger index–which measures the number people who fall short of minimum food needs–was reported at 210, and, by 2008, the depth of hunger had decreased to 150, a significant reduction. In addition, the depth of the food deficit was at 22 kilocalories per person per day, while the percent of malnutrition prevalence in children under 5 was at 1.7 percent. The number of undernourished people in Samoa was reported at 100,000 in 2008, an estimated five percent of the population.

Despite the lack of progress, in 2013, the Samoan government and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced that Samoa was among 40 countries to have cut hunger in half. This success was one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals set by the U.N. in 2000 to be achieved by 2015.

In response to Samoa’s hard work, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Samoa Hon. LeMamea Ropati Mualia stated that “Samoa has put into place decisive policies and actions to accelerate hunger reduction,” and this is “a good signal for our beloved country’s economic growth and sustainability.”

Although there is no current data on unemployment rates and the population living below the poverty line, and with the GDP increase of $.031 billion from 2015 to 2016, which ranked Samoa 203rd in the world, it can be inferred that there has been a slow but steady decrease in hunger in Samoa.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr