Samoa tsunami 2009

Photo: Jane Ussher

On September 29, 2009 an earthquake of 8.3 magnitude triggered a tsunami which devastated villages along the southern coasts of Samoa, American Samoa, and the northern islands of Tonga.

More than 4500 people were directly affected by the tsunami, with social and economic impacts affecting many thousands more. Over 3000 people were made homeless.

Oxfam is there

Oxfam’s emergency team of water and sanitation specialists and livelihoods experts arrived in Samoa immediately following the tsunami. Together with our long-term partner in Samoa, Women in Business Development (WIBDI), Oxfam helped approximately 4500 people at the peak of the response.

Oxfam continues to work with WIBDI, government officials, and other humanitarian agencies to provide safe water and sanitation and support the long term rebuilding of people's livelihoods in rural communities where many homes and farms were devastated. Over 2500 people are receiving ongoing assistance.

Providing safe water

Rain-water harvesting. Photo: Jane Ussher/Oxfam
Carol Penato, 7, collects safe water from their rain-water harvesting unit supplied by Oxfam.

Oxfam is working with local water authorities in Samoa to ensure that affected communities are set up with safe water and sanitation facilities. This includes:

  • Fresh water supply through construction and supply of materials for rain-water harvesting on Manono Island and Upolu’s south coast
  • Providing fresh water through water trucking and supply of permanent 11,000lt water tanks
  • Providing 70 permanent tanks for new government-built houses
  • Construction and repair of latrines
  • Public health promotion in water conservation, sanitation and hygiene

Improving livelihoods


Rebuilding livelihoods. Credit: Jane Ussher/Oxfam
Nuusa Mamea, 32, plants organic watermelon seedlings that he received from Oxfam’s partner organisation in Samoa, Women in Business.

Oxfam is working closely with its partner organisation, WIBDI, to help affected communities rebuild their livelihoods. This includes:

  • Cash-for-work schemes for youth to clear land for organic vegetable and fruit planting and tank installation on Manono Island
  • Distribution of seedlings for organic vegetable and fruit production
  • Improving market access for cash crops
  • Support for organic coconut oil production and soap production
  • Training in public health promotion
  • Training for WIBDI staff to provide trauma support to affected families
  • Find out more about Oxfam’s Samoan partner organisation Women in Business Development

Samoa tsunami in words and pictures


Oxfam would like to thank the below companies for their contribution to our Samoa Tsunami appeal. From collecting donations in-store to donated services, all of their contributions will make a difference to the people of Samoa.

Ad Hub, Aim Proximity, Auckland Airport, Auckland City Council, Base FM, Bookabach, Catch Media, Colenso, Fairfax, Flight Centre, Flossie Media Group, iTicket, kFM, Large Design, Les Mills, Levi Stores, Mail Shop, MindFood, Mr Vintage, MSN, Mt Smart Stadium, MTV, National Business Review, North Shore City Council, NZ Herald, OfficeMax, Otago Daily Times, PropertyTalk, Rip It Up, Sky TV, Telecom, The Baby Factory, The Body Shop, The Listener, TVNZ, TV Works, Telnet, Scoop,,, Ticketmaster, Westfield Shopping,, Yahoo!Xtra.

Latest news

Samoa: What really happened to your donation?

November 3, 2010

In the wake of the Campbell Live report on questions over government aid to the Samoa tsunami, non-government organisations (NGOs) want to clarify the distinction between government aid and the aid administered through their organisations.

Samoa tsunami one year on

September 28, 2010

On this one year commemoration of the men, women and children who lost their lives in the devastating tsunami that struck Samoa and Tonga in September 2009, our thoughts are with families, friends and communities. We also extend our sympathies to the many survivors who experienced suffering and trauma.

Six weeks on, organics plays a role in Samoa recovery

November 9, 2009

Six weeks on from the devastating Samoa tsunami, Oxfam and its Samoan partner organisation, Women in Business, are helping affected families to rebuild their livelihoods through organic agriculture for niche export markets.

Latest blogs

A week at the front line

October 8, 2009

Oxfam aid worker Janna Hamilton arrived in Samoa 48 hours after the devastating tsunami struck. Here she writes about her experience. I have been up and down Samoa's devastated southern coastline for over a week now, helping to distribute emergency supplies to affected families who have lost their homes. Sitting and speaking with these people, most of them vow never to live on the idyllic coast again.

Finding displaced families

October 4, 2009

Oxfam aid worker Janna Hamilton arrived in Samoa 48 hours after the devastating tsunami struck. Here she writes about her experience. It is five days since the tsunami decimated the coastline of Upolu. Today is a day of mourning in Samoa. Samoans are famous for their melodious church singing and it can be heard throughout the capital, Apia, this morning.

Arrival in Samoa

October 3, 2009

Oxfam aid worker Janna Hamilton arrived in Samoa 48 hours after the devastating tsunami struck. Here she writes about her experience. When I first arrived in Apia, there were no signs of the devastation. The capital was buzzing as usual.

Latest stories

August 31, 2009

Award winning photographer Jane Ussher visited Samoa to document Oxfam's emergency response work and the progress six months on. Jane also visited Samoa in the immediate aftermath to document scenes from the devastation. Jane has a long history of documenting Oxfam's programmes in Samoa and has kindly donated her skills to support our work.

You can help with future emergencies

Oxfam aims to respond immediately to humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters, but we can only do this if we have funds ready when they are needed. You can help: