Poverty in Samoa is very different compared to poverty in a lot of other countries because Samoa has one of the most stable and healthy economies in the Pacific Region. Poverty is more prevalently seen in the rural communities of Samoa. These communities have unequal opportunity and distribution of benefits compared to Samoa’s urban areas, causing 26.9 percent of Samoans to live below the national poverty line.
Here are five things to know about the 26.9 percent of the population of Samoa who lives below the national poverty line:
- Many of the poor and rural areas of Samoa are in remote parts of the island that are tormented by cyclones and other harsh natural disasters. These natural disasters constitute a major threat to fishing and farming communities. Oftentimes, the damage done makes for a very slow recovery time, meaning a drop in income for individuals in the rural fishing and farming communities.
- Gender and age inequality plays a substantial role in the lives of women and young individuals in Samoa, especially in the more impoverished areas. These disadvantages cause families who need to rely on the woman or children to work at a lower of income. Often times women, children and young adults do not have the same opportunities for work as grown men do and are typically paid much less, making survival that much more difficult.
- Samoa also suffers from agricultural issues. It’s narrow resource base and shallow soils are very vulnerable to erosion. Along with it’s declining forestry resources, Samoa is a, sometimes, difficult place for islanders to make a stable income in the agricultural industry. Because many Samoans in rural communities are in this industry, there is a seemingly unending cycle of poverty.
- In Samoa, only 29.4 percent of the population aged 15 years and older are employed. Jobs are slim all throughout the island, but especially slim in the rural areas. In rural areas, families survive on one of two options: subsistence farming or simply rely on family overseas to send them money.
- There are many sanitary, health and educational needs that are not met in Samoa’s rural communities. Access to education, hospitals, clean water and other resources are very hard to come by. In 2011, it was found that 25 percent of Samoans do not have access to clean drinking water. It was also found that the education gap between children in urban and rural communities was very wide, resulting in rural children only obtaining farming jobs and therefore remaining in poverty.
The number of impoverished individuals in such a stable economy such as Samoa is quite rare. To end poverty in Samoa, especially for those living in rural areas, new jobs and better farming techniques must be implemented. If the island works together, one day Samoa’s economic gap will narrow and create a much better future for their population.
– Bella Chaffey