Photo: Jane Ussher

Over 25% of people in Samoa live in poverty, many of whom live in rural communities where small-scale farming is common. Climate change and urban drift is making their lives increasingly difficult. 

The challenge

Samoa’s palm fringed beaches, five star hotels and turquoise seas may lend the impression of a luxurious island paradise yet around 25% of Samoans live in poverty with many rural families eking out a living from backyard crops and livestock.
The agricultural sector has largely failed to transition to a market economy, so rural families typically rely on small-scale farming and remittances from relatives to keep afloat.
Women undertake much of the work to run these rural farms, in part because many young rurally-based Samoans are choosing to migrate to cities, which is putting strain on urban social services and reducing the country’s agricultural output.
This picture is made worse by climate change. Reliably putting food on the table in the face of erratic weather, rising seas and ever-more frequent cyclones is placing these families further at risk. 
While bearing the larger responsibility for tasks that are made more difficult by climate change, women in Samoa have little say in how to manage these future risks. We believe they play a critical role in responding to climate change through their essential sustainable farming skills and knowledge in natural resource management.

The problem you’re helping to solve

By supporting rural families to strengthen their local economies, urban drift can be reduced and the wider Samoan agricultural economy can become more diverse, climate-resilient and innovative.

Our local partner, Women in Business Development (WIBDI) works across 183 villages to empower and equip women to create sustainable businesses in fetau oil, dried banana chips, and virgin coconut oil and soap.

By providing wrap-around support to kick start these businesses, families will have a chance to participate in a cash economy. For many, this means being able to send children to school, pay utility bills and, importantly, to have control over their lives instead of relying on remittances.

It also provides encouragement for young people to remain in rural areas where they can build a secure future by contributing to a growing local economy.

Your support will 

• Assist farmers in accessing new markets by becoming organically certified.
• Support producers to access new domestic and international markets.
• Provide business training and mentoring opportunities.
• Give technical assistance in sustainable agricultural production, marketing and branding and supply logistics.
• Empower women to take business leadership roles through training and placements on business committees.
• Create partnerships with established local businesses.
• Help reduce families’ dependence on remittances.

Fact-sheet: livelihoods in Samoa

Find out more (pdf)

Check out our images from Samoa.