APIA, Samoa — In Samoa, 18.8 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. Poverty in Samoa is often relative, and many suffer from the poverty of opportunity. Those living in rural areas are less likely to have the benefits of resources like education, clean water and healthcare, and this contributes to poverty in Samoa. However, the country has made significant strides in the past decade, with the poverty rate falling from a high of 26.9 percent in 2008.
Here are five facts you need to know about the poverty in Samoa:
- While Samoa is considered a developing country and has made significant progress, gender inequality exists and leaves women disadvantaged. Women do not have the same work opportunities as men, and their income is significantly lower.
- More and more, young people face problems with unemployment and underemployment. That said, only 8.7 percent of the population aged 15 and older is currently unemployed. Among youth (aged 15-29) this number is 16.8 percent.
- Poorer communities in remote parts of the island are particularly vulnerable to disadvantages. The highest exposure to poverty occurs in areas stricken by cyclones and other natural disasters. Constant destruction of homes, farms and workplaces leaves those who live in these areas at a disadvantage compared to those who live elsewhere in Samoa.
- Agriculture is difficult in Samoa, mainly due to the number of natural disasters. The ecologically fragile islands suffer constant and rapid environmental degradation. Poverty in Samoa has much to do with the destruction of agriculture that comes with a volatile environment. And yet, two-thirds of the workforce is in agriculture, and what manufacturing exists relates to agricultural products. In other words, most people still rely on agriculture for their income.
- Since 2015, 99 percent of the population in Samoa has access to improved sources of drinking water. While this is a very positive statistic, health, education and sanitation are still major issues in the country. The educational gap between rural and urban areas is significant. Many rural children end up with agricultural jobs that do not supply sufficient income when they become older, ultimately becoming a part of the cycle of poverty in Samoa.
Samoa has one of the most stable and healthy economies in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. They have managed to meet many Millennium Development Goals and to surpass expectations of the nations who are watching. While Samoa’s climate brings unique challenges in creating a stable economy, better education in rural areas and increased farming productivity will help pave the way for a brighter future.
– Rilee Pickle
Photo: Wikimedia Commons