Samoa Tsunami: People staying away from devastated villages

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 02 Oct 2009

International aid agency Oxfam’s emergency team is at work in Samoa today with their immediate focus 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 traumatised population.

“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.”

Oxfam is coordinating its relief effort through its Samoan partner organisation of eight years, Women in Business Development Inc. (WIBDI).  WIBDI operate in 150 rural villages across Samoa, supporting a range of community-based projects aimed at alleviating poverty, creating sustainable village economies and revitalising the agricultural sector.

With this disaster one of the largest Samoa has ever experienced, Oxfam Australia is calling on the public to respond generously to their appeal for funds to support Oxfam’s relief work. 

In addition to responding to the situation in Samoa, Oxfam is also providing humanitarian support to those affected by the earthquake in Indonesia and the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

To donate to Oxfam Australia’s Asia Pacific Crisis Fund please visit or phone 1800 088 110.

For more information contact: John Lindsay, Media & External Relations Manager, Oxfam Australia on +61 425 701801,