Optimistic outlook for Samoa five months after cyclone
Optimistic outlook for Samoa five months on from devastating cyclone.
The recovery outlook in Samoa is optimistic five months on from the devastating Cyclone Evan, as homes and hotels are rebuilt and crops replenished.
Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage was caused to the country when Evan hit in December last year, but life is slowly getting back to normal for many.
Leilani Momoisea reports:
This year, the Australian government gave Samoa almost US$7 million for post-Cylone Evan support. Just last week the International Monetary Fund approved a further $US8 million loan to Samoa to manage the economic impact of Evan. And this week, the New Zealand government pledged a further US$4.8 million to help recovery with a focus on rebuilding for resistance to future natural disasters. The Samoa Disaster Management Office says this is a priority, with risk reduction and climate change being integrated into the design of all measures that are part of the recovery programme. The assistant chief executive for the disaster management office, Filomena Nelson, says electricity and water is back to normal and the rebuilding of homes is well under way.
FILOMENA NELSON: Some families have completed their houses, some are still rebuilding, and some of the families have also received assistance from their families overseas. The waiver, or the duty waiver, for building materials is still valid up until July.
In March, the New Zealand government gave US$3 million to help Samoa's tourism sector recover. The president of the Samoa Hotel Association, Tuala Oli Ah Him, says these funds, along with help from the Samoa government, has greatly assisted with the rebuilding of accommodation standards. He says most of the budget and standard accommodation are up and running and are being built back to a higher standard.
TUALA OLI AH HIM: If there's something that we discovered was faulty during the cyclone, we got some engineers working with our Samoa Hotel Association and the government to actually improve and to build back better from what it was before, more resilient to natural disaster.
He says there is also good news in that Apia's Aggie Grey's hotel is expected to be back in business from the middle of next year.
TUALA OLI AH HIM: We're really happy, because we really need Aggie Greys to come back on board, especially as next year we will be hosting the UN conference - the United Nations Small Island conference - that's going to be held in Samoa, and it's a bonus to have Aggie's to add to a number of rooms that we need.
The Samoa Women in Business Development group has been working with just under 300 farmers that had their crops and property damaged by the cyclone. The group's executive director, Adi Maimalaga Tafuna'i, says with the help of Oxfam they have been making regular visits to farmers to help rebuild and replant. She says support to get farmers back on their feet has been huge and they have bounced back fast, but it will be a while before coconut oil production can be full-time and another month before bananas can be harvested for export.
ADI MAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: For farmers planting vegetables, they're very much involved now in bringing their vegetables in for the organic baskets on Fridays and selling at the markets. Most of the fruit, bananas and pawpaws, they're starting to come back on the market. We're beginning to see bananas all over now, only not as much as we would have had if it hadn't have been for the cyclone.
Adi Maimalaga Tafuna'i says dried banana production has also been given a boost against any future power outages, with a back-up generator funded from Canada.
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