Happy United Nations Day!

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Prudence Raine, UN volunteer at UNDP Samoa multi-county office.

Prudence Raine, UN volunteer at UNDP Samoa multi-county office.

Today, on 24 October 2017 we celebrate the United Nations Day. 

The objectives of the United Nations (U.N.) is outlined in its Charter, and includes maintaining international peace and security, promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights, upholding international law, and delivering humanitarian aid. 

The UN was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member States. Today, there are 193. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City.

The UN inherited responsibility for (Western) Samoa in 1945 from then League of Nations as a Trusteeship Territory under New Zealand’s administration. As the first Pacific island country to gain independence in 1962, Samoa also became the first UN Trust Territory to become independent.   

A partnership with the United Nations on Samoa’s development commenced from 1962, following which Samoa became an official member of the UN in 1976, and the UNDP Multi Country Office established officially on 1 July 1979.

The UN Resident Coordinator based in Samoa, Lizbeth Cullity covers the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau and leads the UN Multi-Country Team comprising 10 UN agencies and funds resident in Samoa, as well as other non-resident UN agencies in Fiji and beyond.

Together, the UN system supports concerted efforts by the governments of Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as national development goals through the Pacific United Nations Development Assistance Framework 2013-2017 and the new programme of work for the UN in the Pacific for the next five years - the UN Pacific Strategy 2018-2022.  

Amongst several key highlights of this year, the most important milestone for the UN system in Samoa and the Pacific was the provision of premises by the Government of Samoa in June to be used as office space.

The One-UN House is located at Tuanaimato, and is now home to UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women. ILO, FAO, UNESCO and WHO will move in 2018.

The UN Country Team in Samoa is very grateful to the Government and people of Samoa for this invaluable contribution. It is a further testament of Samoa’s commitment to the Organisation and reflects the Government’s continuous leadership in the work of the UN in Samoa, including at regional and global levels. 

Additionally, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr Miroslav Jenča was warmly welcomed by the Samoa Government during the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting hosted in Apia in September.

Mr Jenča met with and held fruitful discussions with the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, as well as other Pacific Leaders. 

To mark the UN Day 2017, we are pleased to provide herein an overview of some of the UN agencies’ work in Samoa and beyond.  

F.A.O.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O) of the UN strives to improve food security and nutrition for all to ensure people have regular access to high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

To achieve this, FAO partners with governments and organisations around the world to improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices.

As a technical agency, FAO facilitates partnerships for food and nutrition security, agriculture and rural development between governments, development partners, civil society and the private sector.

The FAO Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands was established in Samoa in 1996 to coordinate the work of FAO in 14 Pacific island countries.

Amongst an extensive programme of work in Samoa, FAO and the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries and of Women, Community and Social Development jointly launched a technical cooperation project in April 2017 aimed at strengthening the capacity of Samoa youth for employment and livelihood in the agriculture sector.

As the backbone of the Samoan economy, the agriculture sector absorbs some 38% of employment in Samoa. This joint project will also contribute to the outcomes of the Samoa One-UN Youth Employment Programme by addressing the challenges of youth unemployment, and to deliver practical solutions and opportunities that would facilitate employment for youth in the agriculture sector.

FAO has been working with Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa and the University of Queensland to reduce post-harvest losses and food safety risks in producing and marketing fruit and vegetables.

In the wider Pacific, FAO has contributed to strengthening food safety legislation in countries which have recently established a Food Act, including the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tonga, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia by contributing technical expertise and supporting the national consultation process for food regulations.

These food regulations include registration of food premises for food hygiene certification, designation of official food inspectors, inspection of food businesses and imported food amongst others.  

The new FAO programme for Pacific Island countries over the next five years (2018-2022) has identified healthy consumption of safe and nutritious food as a priority area for many Pacific governments. This is a further opportunity for Pacific governments to work in partnership with FAO to develop and implement a custom-made program to progress through the necessary stages to achieve a robust food control system. 

I.L.O.

At the closure of the largest private employer in Samoa, the Yazaki EDS Samoa Ltd, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has responded with a series of national partner-organisation-led programmes to ensure that redundant workers were prepared for and provided with employment and social protection services that could lead to securing waged and self-employment. 

ILO conducted a mapping exercise of existing employment and social protection services in Samoa in 2017 and supported various national partners in commencing the registration process of workers for various programmes. These included the: 

1. Samoa National Youth Council (SNYC) - registering youths on its e-Youth Hub generating Curriculum Vitaes automatically, and which are linked to the Samoa Government’s Labour Market Information System (LMIS). This system also provides information of youth at village levels which enables relevant government ministries to work with them on community-based economic empowerment programmes, including overseas seasonal work schemes; 

2. Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) - commenced training on how to manage redundancy packages and registration for its internship programmes. These internship programmes aim to  provide workers with opportunities to be placed in various private sector organisations and secure full-time employment;

3. Samoa First Union - registeration of individual workers to provide protection services and training on rights and non-discrimination principles. The Samoa Workers Congress  is supporting this initiative; and

4. Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) - registration of women workers, particularly sole family earners with children in school for business training and mentorship programmes. 

These registrations have progressed well with overwhelming interest by the workers for these various programmes. It has also attracted four private companies in Samoa that have expressed interest in recruiting 50 workers. 

At the end of the year, the ILO plans to undertake an evaluation of these programmes to determine their impact on the workers.  

From this, it is hoped that a model and lessons learnt for potential replication in other Pacific Island countries facing similar challenges will be shared, including how this may impact on the future of work in the Pacific.

U.N.C.D.F.

The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs).

With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF has been present in the Pacific since 2008, through the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).

UNCDF is jointly implementing PFIP with the UNDP, with the overall objective to increase the number of low-income customers who adopt formal financial services. PFIP aims to reach two million Pacific Islanders by 2019 by supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, disseminating market information, and empowering consumers.

The primary countries of focus under PFIP are: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. 

PFIP has funded 35 projects with financial service providers who have innovated with technology and products, enrolling over 1.6 million customers in services such as agency banking, mobile wallets, micro insurance, micro loans, remittances and savings groups.

This figure represents one in four adults of the six countries in which PFIP operates. Women account for 769,559 of the total clients enrolled, representing significant progress in reducing the gender gap that exists in the Pacific.  Of this figure, 102, 331 clients were recruited in Samoa alone.

PFIP is also working with the Central Bank of Samoa to implement the National Financial Inclusion Strategy and the roadmap.

U.N.D.P.

The United Nations Development Programme based in Samoa multi-county office focuses on helping Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa & Tokelau to build and share solutions to achieve poverty reduction and the sustainable development goals, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, environment and energy for sustainable development and women empowerment.

As Samoa is impacted by increasing frequency of severe tropical storms, the Government of Samoa has adopted a programmatic approach to address climate-induce flooding event through the Green Climate Fund - Integrated Flood Management to Enhance Climate Resilience of the Vaisigano River Catchment in Samoa Project (USD$57M) and the Least Developed Countries Fund - Economy-wide Integration of Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management to Reduce Climate Vulnerability of Communities in Samoa Project (USD$12.3M). 

These two projects will directly benefit over 26,000 people living in the Vaisigano River catchment through improved flood protection infrastructure and downstream drainage, integrated planning and capacity strengthening within responsible sectors of government and the public sector on flood management and mitigation measures such as riverworks and ecosystems solutions in the upper catchment.

The projects also address livelihood concerns, ensuring the empowerment of vulnerable groups such as women and youth through support to the community farming training programme and the One-UN Youth Employment Programme - Small Business Incubator for youth and vulnerable groups. The project will indirectly benefit over 37,000 people. These projects are implemented by the Government of Samoa in partnership with UNDP.

U.N. Environment

The United Nations Environment leads the United Nations’ environmental activities. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the conservation, wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.

The organization has had a long presence in Samoa starting with the establishment of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), back in 1982, as one of its “regional seas” programmes. It has had a project presence and ongoing partnership with SPREP since then and opened its pacific sub-regional office in September 2014.

Recent projects supported by UNEP in Samoa comprise a solid waste management through the prevention of marine litter, strengthening environmental governance, supporting the phase out of ozone depleting substances and an invasive alien species programme which is designed to help restore at least one of Samoa’s national parks. These projects reflect UNEP’s philosophy of partnerships with sister agencies – in these cases the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and SPREP which have been executing partner agencies for the projects.

U.N.E.S.C.O.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supports the Pacific region through activities that contributes to build peace, eradicate poverty, promote sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture and communication and information.

Remittance cash-out transaction at a Digicel mobile money agent.
Remittance cash-out transaction at a Digicel mobile money agent.
Dr Rasul Baghirov, WHO Representative to Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau at Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) Hospital
Dr Rasul Baghirov, WHO Representative to Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau at Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) Hospital
EWACC project: Construction of river protection wall at mouth of the Vaisigano River; a six-year long project supported by UNDP, with USD 12,322,936 from the Global Environment Facility - Least Developed Countries Fund and implemented by the MNRE
EWACC project: Construction of river protection wall at mouth of the Vaisigano River; a six-year long project supported by UNDP, with USD 12,322,936 from the Global Environment Facility - Least Developed Countries Fund and implemented by the MNRE
Participants of the National Youth Week 2017.
Participants of the National Youth Week 2017.
From village to market to online markets: workshop organised by UN WOMEN with the Committee Tina Fuailolo’o on online marketing during the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017.
From village to market to online markets: workshop organised by UN WOMEN with the Committee Tina Fuailolo’o on online marketing during the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017.

Amongst of its key regional activities for 2017, the UNESCO Office in Apia led and focused on: 

• The Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI), held in Kazan, Russian Federation, in July 2017 and attended by Sports Ministers and officials from Fiji, Palau, Tuvalu, and Samoa. the Pacific Ministers emphasized the message that sports and physical education ensures the physical and mental well-being of young people, and strongly promoted the inclusion of persons with disabilities and the empowerment of women and girls;  

• Pacific heritage sites protected under the UNESCO World Heritage Site programme: representatives from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Guam gathered in Palau in August 2017 and committed to protect Pacific heritage sites, as well as shared information on best practices to safeguard these sites; 

• The International Day for Universal Access to Information was celebrated with the first Pacific International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) Talks in Suva, Fiji in September 2017. Speakers from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji, and Vanuatu shared powerful and inspiring stories and experiences in the role of ICT, media and access to information to achieve sustainable development;  

• The 22nd Consultation Meeting for the Pacific Heads of Education in October 2017, which reviewed the Pacific Education Development Framework 2009 – 2017 as well as considered ways to better develop the new Pacific Regional Education Framework (PREF). The new PREF aims to guide the development of education in the Pacific in line with the SDG 4: Quality Education, with emphasis on quality and relevance, learning pathways, student outcomes and wellbeing and teaching profession; and

• In November 2017, UNESCO and the Government of Fiji will convene the ‘Conference on Water Security in the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (SIDS): Bringing UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) in the Pacific’. This Conference will provide a platform of exchange and discussions between UNESCO water experts and national water focal points in the Pacific on matching priorities, needs and implementation gaps in the Pacific with opportunities offered by IHP and related water programmes. 

U.N.F.P.A.

UNFPA United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) strives to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Increasing access to quality sexual reproductive health care, education and protective services in particular for women, children, youth and vulnerable populations is key to making sure this world is delivered. 

Our Samoa programme supports activities focused on strengthening national health system capacity to deliver high quality family planning, sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) and information, supply of commodities and community-based interventions for family resource management.

An important part of our programme draws attention to youth groups particularly young women and girls.

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, together with the International Planned Parenthood Federation affiliate and local NGO Samoa Family Health Association, work in partnership with UNFPA to provide sexual and reproductive health services for young people through mobile community health clinics and through the only Youth Friendly Drop-In Centre located in Savalalo, Apia.

Young people are able to visit the youth clinic and access SRH services, information, contraceptives and proper counselling offered by the trained SFHA staff. 

We have invested in the training of peer educators. The programme supported the MWCSD, MOH and SFHA in peer education training over the last 5 years.

We saw the success in this programme through the role of peer educators during the celebration of the National Youth Week 2017. The group of peer educators actively promoted the theme of “Youth Promoting Peace” to hundreds of young people.

They shared messages with their peers on sexual reproductive health, ways to protect themselves from HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases and other key issues affecting youth. Education, sharing of information and raising awareness of young people regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs and HIV infection. 

U.N.I.C.E.F

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child.

UNICEF assistance is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, under the four main groups of rights – survival, development, protection and participation.

The organization works with governments, other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to ensure all rights for all children.

From the Fiji-based sub-regional office UNICEF serves 14 Pacific Islands Countries. UNICEF’s work in Samoa began back in 2008, through a joint officer with UNFPA. At country level, the organization focuses on two main areas: protection against child abuse and violence in all its forms, promotion of birth registration and support to adequate health services for children.

U.N.V.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme was established with the aim of contributing to world peace and development, and UNVs have been in the Pacific region since the 1970s, almost as soon as the programme started.

UNVs work to assist governments to achieve their development goals by providing a variety of essential services in the fields of health, education, administration, engineering, technology, agriculture, communications and environmental sciences. 

Volunteerism is a meaningful way for people to contribute their time, skills and knowledge to achieve development goals.

Being a volunteer allows you to engage in tackling development challenges which benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. Volunteerism is a global phenomenon that transcends boundaries, religions and cultural divides, it goes by different names and finds different applications in different contexts (be in local, national or international). 

Volunteers strive to achieve the mandate of “Inspiration in action” as volunteers work to translate development into practice and targeted actions.

There is no one template for a UN Volunteer role as each assignment will come with their own unique challenges, and of course, rewards. To find out more about how you could become a UN Volunteer; visit the website www.unv.org

U.N Women

Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.

Working with a variety of partners, our programmes promote women’s ability to secure decent jobs, accumulate assets, and influence institutions and public policies determining growth and development.

One critical area of focus involves advocacy to measure women’s unpaid care work, and to take actions so women and men can more readily combine it with paid employment.

In all our economic empowerment programmes, UN Women reaches out to women most in need, often by engaging with grass-roots and civil society organizations.

Particularly marginalized groups include rural women, domestic workers, some migrants and low-skilled women. Our aims are higher incomes, better access to and control over resources, and greater security, including protection from violence.

The Women’s Committee of Fuailolo’o at Mulifanua celebrated International Women’s Day this year with a successful completion of the Online Marketing workshop hosted by UN Women.

Populated with mothers, aunties, and grandmothers the workshop focused on: computer literacy, understanding value chains, tourism, and creating business plans that seek to promote village-based activities.

Along with donating new computers, tablets, and a printer, UN Women brought in guest speakers from all relevant sectors including private business owners to create a new network for the participants. Online marketing has grown dramatically in Samoa, both nationally as well as reaching markets overseas.

Improving computer literacy skills combined with social media engagement help these talented women reach markets in and beyond the shores of Samoa.

W.H.O

World Health Organization (WHO) office in Apia, Samoa has been supporting the modernization of health sectors in Samoa as well as American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau for more than 55 years. WHO, being the global authority on health, is well known for helping countries to set and adhere to internationally proven and evidence-based norms and standards, aiming at health promotion, disease prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. 

More recently, WHO has assisted Samoa to address its Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) crisis, by launching an initiative in a few villages of Upolu and Savaii to promote health, detect people with risk factors for NCDs and improve treatment protocols.

The project is otherwise known as “PEN Fa’a Samoa” – the package of essential non-communicable disease interventions for primary health care, Samoa way – has been now expanded to 15 villages across the country.

PEN Fa’a Samoa has received recognition in a wider South Asia and Pacific region. Hon. Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr Leao Talalelei Tuitama and WHO Representative in Samoa, Dr Rasul Baghirov, presented this important work in Brisbane, Australia in October 13, 2017 at a side event of the annual WHO Regional Committee. Several Pacific countries and territories expressed interest to learn from experiences of Samoa.

The importance of PEN Fa’a Samoa initiative goes beyond addressing the NCD crisis. It also addresses the weaknesses in service delivery, particularly at the district level.

NCDs are chronic diseases and require long, sometime life-long, management. That necessitates services being close to where people live.

That requires a certain degree of decentralization, moving away from a hospital-centric model of service organization. That is well understood in the country, and measures are under way to strengthen the provision of both public health and health services at primary health care level.

All in all, WHO continues supporting the government in its health reform agenda.

W.M.O

The World Meteorological Organization (W.M.O) is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

Since its establishment, WMO has played a unique and powerful role in contributing to the safety and welfare of humanity by providing high quality weather and climate services.

The organization contributes substantially to the protection of life and property against natural disasters. The early warnings delivered by national weather services save countless lives and reduce economic losses from storms, floods, droughts and landslides.


Story and photos organised by the United Nations in Samoa


© Samoa Observer 2016

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