Visi Talafunga walks around her house in the village of Leone on the west side of American Samoa after an earthquake caused a tsunami on the island September 30, 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Hugh Gentry courtesy
One of the largest disasters Samoa has ever experienced

Samoa Tsunami: People staying away from devastated villages

“Right now we are concerned for the urgent health needs. But we are committed to the long-haul.”
Janna Hamilton
Oxfam aid worker
Published: 2 October 2009

Oxfam helping shocked survivors

International agency Oxfam’s emergency team is at work in Samoa today responding to urgent needs. The immediate focus is to ensure survivors in remote rural areas have clean water and basic sanitation.

Without coordinated action the public health situation is at risk of deteriorating if people become dehydrated and sickness spreads through an already traumatized population.

Oxfam has worked for the past eight years alongside its Samoan partner organization, Women in Business Development Inc. (WIBDI), who operate in 150 rural villages across Samoa, supporting a range of community-based projects aimed at alleviating poverty, creating sustainable village economies and revitalizing the agricultural sector.

“People are staying away from devastated villages today. They’re still in shock and a lot are not ready to start again,” said Oxfam aid worker Janna Hamilton. “Many survivors are wearing face masks due to the strong smell of dead fish and washed up vegetation lying all over the roads and in the remnants of houses,” she added.

“Right now we are concerned for the urgent health needs,” said Janna. “But we are committed to the long-haul. We will be helping rebuild their homes and livelihoods, and ensuring communities become more resilient to future disasters.”

“One man told me he lost his shop, his home and he can’t get to his taro farm anymore. He can no longer support his family,” said Janna. “Once the immediate danger has passed, we need to help these people get back on their feet.”

This disaster is one of the largest Samoa has ever experienced. Oxfam is calling on the public to respond generously to their appeals for funds.