A little more than 18% 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% in 2008 with the help of projects that reduce poverty in Samoa.
3 Projects That Reduce Poverty in Samoa
- 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 will aid poverty reduction, social well-being and sustainable economic growth. Currently, an estimated 24% 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.
- 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 environmental challenges 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 changing weather and build disaster resilience.
- 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. However, in Samoa, there are signs that things are slowly changing. More restaurants in Apia—one of Samoa’s major cities—seem to be taking pride in selling traditional Samoan cuisine with 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