impact-of-covid-19-on-poverty-in-samoaThe impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Samoa is evident in several ways — from increased homelessness to insufficient medical supplies to lack of clean water access. However, thanks to government aid and international assistance, the most vulnerable groups are being supported.

ADRA Samoa Gives Shelter

As it relates to addressing homelessness, the Samoan Government and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) partnered to provide accommodation for families who lost their homes during the pandemic.

As of August 4, 2022, the Samoan Government distributed about 1 million Samoan tala ($369,659) in relief aid while 120 families were given brand new homes by ADRA. The Shelter and Hygiene Program provided ADRA with a grant of 2 million tala ($739,318) and an additional 1.5 million tala ($554,488) to construct specially-adapted homes for 88 households where a family member has a disability. All of the support the government and ADRA provide helps improve the lives of vulnerable families and inspires others.

“It has been a very exciting period for ADRA in Samoa, especially when we have been able, through the shelter interventions, to make a significant difference to people’s lives, and to help them strengthen their resilience to pandemics and natural disasters,” Su’a Julia Wallwork, director of the ADRA told Adventist Records in a statement. In collaboration with New Zealand Habitat for Humanity, ADRA will resume its work on a project called Maluapapa Safe Haven Project.

Samoa Receives Lifesaving COVID-19 Supplies

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Samoa has also been far-reaching in terms of the country’s health care systems. To ensure that all residents have access to necessary resources, the World Health Organization (WHO), carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and in partnership with the European Union (EU) shipped medical supplies to Samoa in May 2022.

The Minister of Health commented on the assistance the WHO, WFP and the EU provided stating “This equipment and medical supplies will be used by Samoan health workers around the country as they continue to test and treat patients and to remain safe themselves as they save lives.”

The supplies included 280,000 face masks, 248,300 hand gloves, 72,000 hospital garments, 30,000 N95 masks, 10,300 face covering, 6,000 COVID-19 testing kits, 3,000 pulse measuring devices and 50 oxygen gas generators which is a sufficient amount for the hospitals that may not have enough resources, the WFP reports.

Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, a WHO Representative to Samoa is grateful for the assistance from the EU due to the barriers they face during the pandemic, stating “We knew we needed to get this equipment and supplies into health workers’ hands here in Samoa, but getting it here was going to be a challenge, due to limited flights and inflated shipping costs. Thankfully, we spoke with our colleagues at WFP and, with support from the EU, they made this flight possible. ”

ARROWS Supplies Clean Water

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Samoa can also be seen in terms of water scarcity. Caritas Australia and Caritas Samoa started the Advancing Resilience through Resources for Outreach and Water Security (ARROWS) program to provide service to families living in residential homes or villages who have no access to clean water.

The program built a water system for 32 families in the mainland of Upolu and Savai’i. Tului is from a family of 13 who had to live with polluted water for 10 years. Since the ARROWS program began, Tului and her family now have access to water, measured in a 3,000L tank to bathe, wash dishes and consume water safely without falling ill.

Many families experience hardships like lack of water, medical supplies, or losing their homes due to the pandemic. However, organizations like the ADRA and ARROWS made it possible for families not to endure the hard struggles but to strive for a future full of possibilities for their community.

Jacara Watkins
Photo: Wikimedia Commons