Samoa featured as positive example of disaster resettlement at SIDS conference

Part of Saleapaga village where Ban Ki-moon was bestowed the princely title Tupua and where most of the village has been relocated inland

By Lagi Kerersoma

APIA: WEDNESDAY 03 SEPTEMBER 2014: Samoa is again a leading example with positive outcomes in the “Management and Rebuilding after Natural Disasters” as the focus of Local Rules, Global Aid, Legal Preparedness for Disasters at the SIDS conference today.

Government and NGO’s representatives from various SIDS member countries who work closely during natural disasters came together to share ideas and experiences in disaster cases.

Representing Samoa were the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Red Cross Namulau’ulu Talalelei and CEO Disaster Management Organisation (DMO) Filomena Nelson.

An example of positive relocation is Saleapaga and Lalomanu.

The villages were relocated from the coasts to higher locations atop the mountain where they have settled permanently.

“It is not easy to relocate villages but it is necessary,” said Ms. Nelson.

Ms. Nelson said with Saleapaga and Lalomanu, it was costly but it was made easier because the villagers wanted to move to higher grounds.

Asked if government paid for the relocation she said most of the family homes were built on donation from donor countries and organisations.

Some families on risky areas did not want to move because they did not want to lose their properties such as lands.

Ms. Nelson said families are still the land owners but for their safety, they need to move.

The idea of exchanging lands with government was raised and was applauded by many.

Others wanted the government to be solely responsible for the relocation.

According to Ms. Nelson, Saleapaga and Lalomanu villagers have settled in well in their new environment and continued life as usual and return to conduct business at the old location on a daily basis.

The United Nation Secretary- General Tupua Ban Ki-moon was conferred the matai tittle Tupua at Saleapaga’s new location. The old village on the coast was totally devastated by the 2009 tsunami including the Primary school where several school children were killed by the waves.

Dr. Carlos Lopez, UN Under Secretary General / UN executive Secretary for Economics Commissioner in Africa said Samoa has provided many positive outcomes in many areas and hopes SIDS members will take the opportunity while in Samoa to share ideas and experiences with the Samoan people.