Samoa Tsunami: Relief effort just the first step

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 09 Oct 2009

Just over a week after tsunami waves scoured the southern coast of Samoa, killing one per cent of the population and seriously affecting one out of every six people, the relief effort remains urgent, says international aid agency Oxfam.

Some survivors do not yet have clean drinking water and the threat of disease still hangs over the islands. Women and children are particularly at risk. Oxfam yesterday air freighted two large water bladders to Samoa and continues to access isolated family groups who have taken refuge in the hills, delivering emergency drinking water, sleeping bags and food.

Oxfam is also stressing that the recovery program will be about more than just immediate relief – it is also about longer-term development.

“Helping these people rebuild their lives will take a big effort. When this disaster fades from the media spotlight, the hard work really begins,” said Oxfam aid worker Janna Hamilton speaking from Apia.

Tinned fish, bottled water and mats are necessary to get survivors through the immediate aftermath, but a successful recovery requires a long-term commitment. Oxfam has a 12-24 month rehabilitation plan and is working with local communities and groups.

Throughout the response, Oxfam will support our local partner organisation, Women in Business Development (WIBDI), in helping people to regain their livelihoods.

Seeds have already been planted and seedlings will be distributed to WIBDI’s network of organic farmers, along with tools, to replace crops lost in the tsunami and rebuild successful markets delivering banana, taro and coconut oil.

In the next six months, Oxfam will also work with the Samoan Water Authority and Department of Health to secure sanitation and safe water supplies for the communities of Saleapaga, Siumu and Manono Island.

“People here are still in shock. To top it off, yesterday’s earthquake near Vanuatu triggered another tsunami warning across the Pacific,“ said Hamilton. “We should do everything we can for the families I saw today running for higher ground, to help them become more resilient to future disasters. This is a chance to build back better.”

In addition to the tsunami response in Samoa, Oxfam is 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 Disaster Appeal please visit or phone 1800 034 034.

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