Photo: Jane Ussher

Palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas may give the impression of an island paradise, but Samoa's poverty is on a par with sub-Saharan Africa. It is classified by the UN as one of the world's least developed countries.

Pacific nations like Samoa face the challenges of geographic isolation and small size. Its economy is highly dependent on agriculture, tourism and family remittances from Samoan workers in New Zealand, Australia and the US. It has a very young population and underemployment remains a critical issue.

A decade marred by the devastating 2009 tsunami, taro blight, numerous cyclones and dwindling prices for copra have ravaged Samoa's economic growth.

Fa'a Samoa

The traditional Samoan way remains a strong force in Samoan life and it’s within this context of Samoan cultural traditions that has shaped the development of our programmes.

Our partner, Women in Business Development Inc (WIBDI), focuses on individual families and not whole village communities or individuals alone.

Oxfam New Zealand in Samoa

Emergency response

  • A devastating tropical storm, Cyclone Evan, struck Samoa in December 2012. Find out how Oxfam responded.
  • 2009 Samoa Tsunami. Oxfam's emergency team responded immediately to the devastating tsunami on September 29, 2009. We provided safe water and sanitation to devastated areas, and we continue to work with WIBDI to help to rebuild people’s livelihoods.

Improving livelihoods

  • Fine mat-weaving
    A traditional mat weaving project is giving women the opportunity to learn new skills and revive a declining cultural tradition.
  • Planting the fetau tree
    The fetau tree not only offers protection from cyclones, tsunami and rising tides, but harvesting its oil is offering a new income stream for local communities.
  • Prize winning organics
    Organic farming has had a huge impact in Samoa by helping families increase their incomes through higher prices for crops.
  • Samoan sweetness
    A special partnership between Oxfam, Women in Business Development Inc. (WIBDI) and All Good Bananas is bringing Samoan Organic Dried Banana Chunks to New Zealand.
  • Trading coconuts
    Oxfam's enterprising partner WIBDI has already turned coconuts into a viable income for more than 200 rural families, enabling a break-through contract to supply virgin coconut oil to cosmetic giant The Body Shop.
  • Giving hope to young dreams
    Despite leaving school early, Iopu is determined to build his parents a home. Oxfam’s partner is turning this dream into reality.

Check out our images from Samoa.

Voices from Samoa

Our partner in Samoa

  • Oxfam New Zealand works closely with WIBDI, a key partner in Samoa, supporting a variety of income generating opportunities. Discover more about the organisation that is bringing about real difference to people's lives.

Country profile

A former German protectorate until 1914, Samoa was then governed by New Zealand until its citizens voted for independence in 1962 – the first country in the Pacific to do so.

Oxfam Unwrapped in Samoa

By buying a gift from Oxfam Unwrapped you can help support our work in Samoa. Take a look at Oxfam Unwrapped's gifts with a difference and help lift people out of poverty, for good.