4 Nov 2009

Editor in Samoa surprised by poor conditions tsunami victims still living in

9:09 am on 4 November 2009

A newspaper editor in Samoa says he's surprised by the poor conditions tsunami victims are still living in, despite the aid that's been donated to the country.

Keni Lesa, the editor of the Samoa Observer, visited areas affected by the disaster one month on from the tsunami.

He says people have plenty of food and clothes, and some have started rebuilding even though they haven't received money from the government to do so yet.

But he says there are still a lot of tents and huts, and many people don't have adequate access to water, raising sanitation issues.

Keni Lesa says it suggests assistance is not reaching those that need it most.

"We think it's a lack of communication from up the top towards these people at the bottom who are delivering the aid. According to a lot of people, the aid is getting to the villages but there's a lot of red tape and a lot of bureaucracy that has to be overcome to get to that aid, and in some villages, the village mayor has been tasked to distribute the aid, and instead of giving it to the people who are affected, they are distributing it to entire families in the villages."

Keni Lesa says the government is trying to silence criticism of the tsunami recovery effort, because it doesn't want donors to be deterred from giving aid.