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Samoa - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific

At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate change and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Samoa to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.

Climate change and disaster impacts in Samoa

Most of Samoa’s population and critical infrastructure is located on the coast. This makes the country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including tropical cyclones and storm surge, flooding, more severe and longer-lasting droughts and heat waves, coastal erosion, increased acidity of ocean waters, sea-level rise, wind-driven waves and king tides.

  • As climate change impacts intensify, Samoa will experience more severe cyclones like 2012’s Cyclone Evan, which damaged 2,000 homes and resulted in over USD200 million in economic losses. Improving the resilience of Samoa’s communications infrastructure will ensure it continues to operate in times of disaster.
  • Very hot days and high humidity are increasing the spread of dengue-carrying mosquitoes. In late 2017, 3,200 people were infected with dengue, close to two percent of Samoa’s population. Australia is helping build Samoa's capacity to control vector-borne diseases like dengue.
  • Samoa is already experiencing more days with extremely heavy rainfall. Intense rainfall in early 2018 caused serious flooding in Apia. Australia is working with the Samoan Government to ensure the country’s infrastructure is more resilient to the impacts of climate change and disasters.
  • As climate change impacts escalate, communities in Samoa will require significant support to adapt. Supporting local civil society organisations to develop local-level adaptation projects is helping to build community resilience.

Bilateral programs

Australia has provided $2.2 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Samoa since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the governance, infrastructure, education and health sectors.

  • Through the Samoa Fiscal Resilience Program ($0.9 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $6.1 million 2018-2020 project total) Australia and other development partners are supporting Samoa to mitigate climate change and disaster risks through incentivising the implementation of a series of fiscal and economic reforms to strengthen Samoa’s resilience against external shocks, including extreme weather.
  • The Australian Government is working with Samoa to ensure that infrastructure, such as the parliament complex, critical roads and bridges are designed and built to be climate and disaster resilient.
  • The new Education Sector Support Program ($2.7 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $13 million 2020-2023 project total) is supporting the integration of climate change and disaster resilience in infrastructure, curriculum and teacher training for Samoa’s schools through technical assistance and budget support. Australia will support the development of a Climate Change and Disaster Risk Resilience Strategy for the Education Sector.
  • The Australian Government is assisting Samoa with the surveillance of vector-borne diseases, which are made worse by climate change. Since 2018 Australia has supported a long-term Epidemiologist Technical Advisor within the Ministry of Health. This support has continued remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional and global programs

A range of regional and global climate change investments are working to build climate and disaster resilience in Samoa, including:

  • The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Samoa Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countries to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
  • The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development in Samoa ($9.3 million over 10 years, 2012–2022) is supporting diverse women leaders engage in disaster planning, response and coordination, have greater influence in decision making, as well as document the unique needs and capacities of women and girls in times of disaster.
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