Samoa Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Samoa:

  1. Health Issues

Samoa is suffering from alarming rates of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).  Noncommunicable diseases are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. NCDs accounted for 75% of the total disease burdens in 2016 and more than half of all premature deaths in the country. The current service delivery system in Samoa is heavily hospital-centric characterized by a weak primary health care structure and overcrowding in the main referral hospital. Also in recent decades, the Samoan islands have suffered some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the world. In november 2019, a deadly measles outbreak hit especially the children in Samoa. It caused 2,437 people to fall sick and killed 32. Twenty-eight of the 32 deaths were children aged under 5.


  1. Youth Unemployment

Youth unemployment increased from 9.99% in 1998 to 18.39% in 2012 but again it decreased to 17.94% in 2018. The primary factor leading to the high unemployment rate is the high rate of students dropping out of school.

According to Tracer Youth Employment Survey (TYES), the survey sampled 790 people aged 18-35 years from 14 villages. Results found that out of the sample size, 78.93 percent of young people dropped out of school at primary and secondary level. The main reason being families could no longer afford school fees with others becoming caretakers for family members.


  1. Water

Samoa uses both ground and surface water for all of its water supply needs. Surface water equates to 65 percent of the total water supply while groundwater accounts for only 35 percent. Currently the main obstacle preventing improvements to the water quality in Samoa is pollution of coastal and freshwater sources. Two major sources of pollution that affect the Samoan water quality are improper solid waste disposal and sediment erosion. 

There is no known water quality monitoring for wastewater associated pollution. Despite pollution from improper waste disposal and sediment erosion, the Samoan government has made constant efforts to improve both the islands’ overall water quality. Records from the CIA indicate that since 2015, 99 percent of the total population in Samoa has access to improved sources of drinking water. Additionally, citizens who have access to a piped water supply are estimated to be between 90 and 95 percent of the total population of Samoa.


  1. Gender Inequality

Married women aged 15–49 have much lower participation in economic work than married men in the same age group. Only 28% of these women were employed compared to 70% of the men. There is still a considerable level of acceptance of domestic violence even among women themselves. 37% of women agree that ‘wife beating’ can be justified. Overall, 46% of Samoan women who have ever been in a relationship have experienced one or more kinds of abuse. Samoa currently has two female members of parliament in the Samoan legislative assembly, accounting for 4.8% of women in parliament, compared with 8.2% in 2006.


  1. Climate Change

By 2030, the island’s surrounding sea level will increase by up to 17 centimetres (6.69 inches), elevating the risk and impact of storm surges and coastal flooding.

Cyclones will be less frequent but more intense.                                                        

Ocean acidification—or carbon pollution that increases the ocean’s acidity—will continue across Samoa, endangering the nation’s coral and reef ecosystems.